Friday, August 28, 2015

In Pursuit of My Glow

I am currently part of the Wellness VoxBox from Influenster, and the timing on this box could not have been more appropriate.  I've felt like I look a little blah since having the babies... I never felt like I glowed while pregnant (probably because the twins were sucking me dry of all extra nutrients)... my skin was dull and dry and my hair was limp.  Those luscious pregnancy locks we're all led to expect while pregnant...?  Nope. 

So I was pleased to get a VoxBox with some products to help get my glow back, including shampoo from ATTITUDEliving, Active Botanicals cleanser from Olay, Wet Skin Moisturizer from Jergens, and enamel-strengthening mouthwash from Colgate... as well as an ache and pain reliever from UrgentRx to help with the constant aches from carrying around more than 20 pounds of baby all the time :-)  

Let's talk about the Wet Skin Moisturizer today...


I've been using this product for over a week now, and I do think it is making some difference in how my skin looks and feels.  I can't really compare it to my previous moisturizer, because I haven't used a body moisturizer consistently in a long time.  :-)  But this product is making it easier for me to use regularly because I put it on before I even get out of the shower.  The wisdom behind this is that the extra moisture your skin absorbs from the shower evaporates fairly quickly and can actually leave your skin drier than before you showered.  By applying moisturizer before your skin dries, you are able to lock in more of that moisture.  

Pros:  Easy to integrate into a busy routine. Applies easily and cleanly.  Lock in moisture before it evaporates.  Softer skin (compared to no moisturizing routine).  

Cons:  The gardenia scent is a little strong (and old-ladyish)... pleasant at first, but can overwhelm.  Supposed to "pat dry," which takes longer than rubbing dry.   

If you want my reviews on the rest of the products in this box, keep an eye on my Facebook page and Instagram feed!  :-)
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PS:  These products were provided to me, free of cost, in exchange for my honest reviews, courtesy of Influenster.

Monday, August 24, 2015

This App is a Life Changer!

Got your attention? :-)

I love almost everything about scrapbooks.  I love pictures, I love pretty paper, I love cutting and gluing and journaling, I love looking at finished scrapbooks, I love the idea of having stories and pictures preserved where Abbie and Sam can look at them someday. 

What I don't love is the time (and money) involved.  While I love to lose myself in my crafty room for hours on end, it still takes a long time and a lot of trips to Michael's to finish a book.  As a matter of fact... I've never finished a book.  Ever.  Our wedding album is the closest I've ever come, and it's probably only 1/3 of the way finished.  

BUT!  I was peer pressured influenced by a bunch of busy blogger types on Instagram to try the Project Life app.  I downloaded it not long after Abbie and Sam were born... it's one of the only apps I've EVER paid for ($2.99).  I've also bought a few "kits" of themed "cards" and some extra layouts.  Altogether, I've probably invested less than $15 in this app.  
In the first week or two I had the app, I built an entire 19-page scrapbook of my induction and delivery and our time in the hospital bonding and meeting family.  I didn't have to print photos, I didn't have to run to Michael's, and I don't have more extra paper and embellishments piling up that I may never use :-)  I can make a page in a few minutes using photos from my camera roll or Dropbox account... my favorite time to "scrapbook" was while feeding babies over night.  Then I saved the finished pages to Dropbox to print at a later date.  For the labor and delivery book, I'm planning to upload each page into a photo book and have the whole book printed when I get a great coupon code.  I can even make extra prints of the book - one for us, one for Abbie, one for Sam - without having to remake each page.  
Now that I'm caught up from their arrival, I have been able to scrapbook all major scrappy occasions the next day... birthdays, 1 and 2 month pictures, our anniversary... all scrapped and waiting to be printed.  The prints can be slipped into scrapbook page protectors (among "real" pages or on their own) or even displayed in square frames.  Pretty nifty!  For this stage in our family's life, where the photo opps are many and the extra time is sparse, being able to make scrapbook pages so simply and quickly is a huge giift!  I'm not being compensated in any way for this post, just hoping to spread the word and hope to other moms or busy people who are convinced they'll never catch up on their photo memory preservation :-)
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Monday, August 17, 2015

What's In a (Pair of) Name(s)?

As soon as anyone confirmed that I was, indeed, pregnant and not just massively bloated around the midsection, they asked, "Do you know what you're having?" We were super-excited to say that we were having a girl and a boy!  The follow-up question was - almost without fail - "What are their names?"  

If you followed this pregnancy, you know that we did not announce names prior to delivering the twins.  We had a handful of reasons for this, one of which was that we were being so open about all aspects of our IVF and pregnancy experiences, we wanted to keep a small part of the process between us.  Another reason is that we honestly weren't 100% certain of either name before we met them!  

Naming a person (or two) was one of those things that felt like a huge, huge responsibility to me.  These are their names, not just for their whole life, but forever.  As I was filling in the family tree pages of their baby books, I wrote in the name of my grandfather who died while I was pregnant. It struck me that even though he's gone, the stories we tell about him will always be tied to his name, written on the pages of those baby books.  My mother in law loves exploring her genealogy, and often tells us about her relatives from several generations back... by name.  Long after our babies have lived, their descendents will read these names and connect them to the stories of the people who carried them.  Kinda huge, right?

So we didn't want just any name we pointed to in a baby book.  We wanted them to have meaning, both to us and in the "your name means ___" sense.  We wanted them to be able  to be playful for a child, with an adult option in case they run for office someday.  (I've always kind of wished that Katie was short for something more grown-up.  Not that I'd probably use it, but it would be there if I wanted it.)  We wanted something that wasn't too modern and had stood the test of time.  We wanted combinations of names that had an easy cadence and flow with our last name, and that fit with each other as siblings and twins.  And we wanted something most people could pronounce :-)

Abigail is a name we fell in love with early in our fertility struggle.  It's of Hebrew origin and means "Her Father's Joy" (although we prefer to edit it to "parents' joy," since she makes me pretty happy too).  We know several Abbie/Abbys who we love dearly, and would love if our daughter grew up to be like them.  It's a name we clung to through so many ups and downs that sometimes when I call our daughter by her name, I choke up because Abbie - OUR Abbie - is really here, and it's not just an abstract name for a hypothetical someday child.  Her middle name, Rebecca, means "Captivating" and is in honor of a dear friend of ours... another woman we will hold up as a role model to Abbie, an example of grace, faith, and strength.

Samuel was the son of Hannah, in the Bible.  She was heartbroken in her infertility and is famous for praying so earnestly and silently while praying for a child that she was assumed to be drunk.  The popular verse among those parenting after infertility, "For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him" (1 Samuel 1:27) is a quote from Hannah.  Samuel means "asked of God" or "God heard," and I cannot think of a more fitting name for the child we cried, begged, and prayed for for five long years.  Ethan means "Strong" and is, of course, after his Daddy.  It's a tradition in my family to give the first son his father's name as a middle name, so this was set in stone in my mind from the beginning.  So we just needed to find a first name that flowed with Ethan as a middle.  It's harder than you'd think! :-)

We're so pleased with the names we chose, and that they allow us to testify to God's love and grace when we share them with people. How did you choose your children's names?  I'd love if you'd share them with us in the comments! 
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Monday, August 10, 2015

Twin Birth Story: Abigail and Samuel, Part 2

This is the second part of Abigail's and Sam's birth story.  You can read the first part here.

We left off after 54 hours of labor, with Dr. Abtahi telling me that I'd finally be having babies in about half an hour.

Ethan and I were still trying to wake up fully and process this information as our room was almost immediately swarming with medical staff.  The nurse told us we would not be coming back to that room and to pack all of our things.  As Ethan hurriedly packed everything back into our bags, I was introduced to our anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist (I can't remember)... Rob.  He was super nice and laid back, cracking jokes with us as he started injecting fun stuff into my IV and epidural.  Within just a couple of minutes, I was being whisked down the hall toward an operating room.

When we got to the doors of the OR, a nurse told Ethan to hang back to put a surgery coverall on.  We hugged, squeezed hands, and - of course - selfied, and parted ways.  They pulled my bed right up next to the operating table and asked if I could move my legs to help them get me on the table.  That would be a big, numb, NOPE.  Someone put my right leg on the table, and I got startled when I glanced over and saw it laying there.  Because I couldn't feel it being moved, and had no "connection" to it. SO WEIRD!  Anyway, I'm moved over and prepped for surgery.  When my doctor came in, she saw me almost shivering right off the table, and brought me a warm blanket to lay across my chest.  I asked when Ethan would be able to join me, because it sure seemed like we were close to go time.  The anesthetist told me the rest of the prep steps that needed to happen before he'd come in, and kept up a stream of small talk to calm and distract me.

Finally, Ethan came hustling through the door, sat down at my head, and grabbed my hand under the blankets across my chest. My two doctors (Kovac and Abtahi) and a bunch of nurses and techs were in position around me, so I took a deep breath and asked Dr. Kovac to narrate.  She said, "uh sure.  I'm almost through the skin layer..." Pretty sure I blurted, "What, already!?"  It's still so strange to me that I was being sliced open and had no idea!  Ethan told me later that as he sat down, he saw the silver flash of the scalpel as she made the first cut.  So cool!

I felt a bunch of tugging and my body bouncing as Dr. Kovac told me she was separating the muscle layers.  I said "Ow... wait, no, 'ow' is the wrong word... I'm not in pain... it's just weird."  :-)  Finally, after what felt both like hours and like mere seconds, someone announced that Baby A was almost out.  We were able to watch Dr. Abtahi lift our beautiful Abigail out of me, and we heard the sweetest little cry... almost like a kitten's.  I immediately started bawling :-)  Someone called out her time of birth: 6:09am, 49 minutes after Dr. Abtahi came in to check my cervix.  She was quickly rubbed clean and taken to the side of the room to be briefly checked out, while we waited for the doctors to deliver her brother.  One minute later, "here we go" followed by a loud, indignant wail.  Suddenly, we were parents of two perfect, tiny newborns.  One of the nurses called out Sam's birth weight - 6lb14oz - and brought him over to Ethan.  Soon after, Abbie was carried over, too, and Ethan had his arms full of brand new life.  I was so mesmerized watching them and watching him watch them... when Dr. Kovac continued with her narration, I had no idea what she was saying.  I said, "What?!"  She repeated herself - something about a placenta - and I told her she could stop narrating... "the good part just happened."
My reaction as Abbie cried for the first time...
After I got to nuzzle the twins a tiny bit, nurses led Ethan out to the recovery room with both babies, Dr. Kovac left to get cleaned up, and Dr. Abtahi got busy sewing and gluing me back together.  I thought I'd feel intensely lonely when my belly was empty and my husband and babies were in a different room, but I was just reveling in this eurphoric glow.  I was a mom.  They were here, healthy and safe.  I had worked so hard for nine months for that to be true, and I was basking in a job well done.

When Dr. A had finished reassembling my abdomen, I was "unprepped" - rolled side to side, had tape ripped off my back and some areas wiped clean - and moved to a bed.  Someone wheeled me into recovery, and I could see Ethan and a nurse by a warmer across the room, hovering over our two tiny darlings.  We got to spend two and a half wonderful hours in recovery, bonding with Abbie and Sam, trying to nurse, and soaking in their amazingness.  Their blood sugars were both low, and we tried to raise them with a bottle and nursing.  Finally, it was determined that they would need to go to a transitional care nursery for a few hours to be put on glucose IVs.

Brenda, my nurse from the day before, had come on shift and gotten herself assigned to me.  She made sure to keep me well dosed with pain meds, and I felt pretty great.  So great that I kept forgetting to breathe :-/  I was put on oxygen because my O2 sats kept dropping.  That meant that I had to go to the PICU instead of a regular post-partum room, so I would have to be separated from the babies until we were all stable again.  I told Ethan to stay with the babies so they wouldn't be "alone."

About 6 or so hours later, I heard Ethan's voice from the doorway, announcing that he had a surprise for me... he wheeled Abbie into the room in her bassinet.  A nurse was finishing up Sam's bath, and brought him a few minutes later. They weren't entirely cleared, and had to keep IV cannulas in for a couple more hours, but we were together! 

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PS: If you followed along with my bumpdates, you'll appreciate this... while I was in PICU, my inlaws brought me this... 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Twin Birth Story: Abigail and Samuel, Part 1

I have been wanting to get our birth story published for a while now... I set deadline goals and let them pass a few different times... turns out, life with two newborns leaves precious little time or brain space for blogging!  I believe this will be a two-parter, in part to let me publish some of it sooner, and in part because it could very well end up being really long! ;-)  So many thoughts and feelings that I want to preserve on the internet to look back on as they begin to fade in my own mind...

The night we started my induction, we dropped Charley off with Ethan's parents, who would be watching him while we were otherwise occupied :-)  His mom made one of my favorite meals - chicken and dumplings - for my "last supper," since we assumed I'd be going without food from the start of the induction until the babies made their debut.  I got super-emotional hugging and kissing Charley goodbye... next time we saw him, he'd be a "big brother" and I knew his life was about to change dramatically.  Eventually for the better, I believe, but knew it would probably take him a while to agree.  

Pulling out of my in-laws' driveway...
We reported to the hospital at 8pm on Sunday, May 31.  The doctor had told us that we'd be doing a foley bulb induction, and I had made the mistake of googling what that meant.  So I was pretty nervous.  We knew the plan was a slow induction, and that we may not even have the babies until Tuesday.  Of course, we were hoping it wouldn't take THAT long, but agreed that slowly increasing induction meds and letting my body adjust and cope and giving it the chance to kick in on its own was the best course for my diabetes and for the babies.  I just hoped I had the stamina!

So we got registered and were shown to our room - which was the same labor and delivery room we were shown on our tour :-)  Room 2010.  Met my nurse, Stephanie, who got my IV started and monitors on the babies - just like my gazillion non-stress tests.  She said I'd be on the monitors continuously until the babies were born... I immediately started trying to negotiate for intermittent monitoring, but she was pretty insistent that I'd only be able to unhook to go to the bathroom.  

38 weeks, 1 day pregnant.  I.Am.Done.
The resident who would be working closely with my MFM team (Dr. Abtahi) came in and introduced herself, checked the positions of the babies (B - Sam - had flipped breech again, but no big worry, since Abbie was still vertex), and got started inserting my Foley bulb.  I don't handle cervix checks well, and this was like one looooong, drawn-out cervix check.  And my cervix was shut tight, so she had to work really hard to get the catheter through.  She was the sweetest, so I feel a little bad that I wasn't super-nice to her... but OW!  

Anyway... eventually, it was in and I was tucked in for the night.  Except that I was still massively pregnant, and being tucked in for the night meant for the next hour or so until I needed to go to the bathroom.  Again.  After several times of me being up and unplugged from the monitors, and the nurse having to find the babies again, she got the resident to agree to intermittent monitoring, since pitocin wasn't starting until morning.  Once in the middle of the night, during a bathroom run, I saw that I was dripping blood all over the bathroom floor... I called for my nurse in a panic, and she said it was coming from my catheter and was totally normal... from the "trauma" to my cervix.  Yeah, trauma is a good word! ;-) 
This is a foley bulb induction.  Yeah.  The image is originally from IMGBuddy, but it seems to only exist in Google search results now..
In the morning, they let me order breakfast, which was AWESOME since I'd totally expected the chicken and dumplings to be my last meal for a while.  We got pitocin started at a really low dose, and increased it a little bit every so often.   My bulb finally came out in the early afternoon when a nurse gave it a little tug.  When I was checked after that, I was dilated to about 3cm.  I'd been on continuous monitors since my pitocin started, and we could see that I was having good, strong, frequent contractions, and guesses were that I'd deliver in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.  

Monday evening, I was dilated to about 4cm, and the doctor said to discontinue pitocin long enough for me to have supper (woohoo!) then get it started back up.  The thought was that if I was only off a short time, my uterus could rest and regroup, and I wouldn't lose any ground.  Plus, I needed fuel to keep going!  I love that my doctors were so focused on making sure I had what I needed to stay strong.  During the day, I had a shot of Nubain in my IV and got a good, drugged nap... but still passed on the epidural.  I knew I was going to get one eventually, but I wanted to hold off until labor was a little more established.

As the late evening and overnight progressed, and it was clear I wasn't going to be delivering early Tuesday morning, I started to get a little discouraged.  When my doctor rounded, I asked her when the best time for an epidural would be... she said that since I was 5cm and contracting well, this would be an excellent time.  So around 10am on Tuesday (36 hours after induction started), my epidural was up and running.  Thank goodness!!  I was terrified, but it turned out that the biggest problem was my ticklish back.  Any time the anesthetist touched me, I twitched.  Ethan and my wonderful nurse, Brenda, kept talking to me and keeping me calm... they were fantastic!  Brenda was relieved when it was in because she said, "Your mouth said your pain was a 4, your eyes said more like 7."  :-)  And I truly had no idea how much pain I was in until it was gone!  Drugs are niiiiice!  

Best support person EVER!  Sorry about my "30 hours into induction and still no babies" look. ;-)
So...  I labored, nice and comfortably, all day Tuesday.  The day time resident broke Abbie's water at 1pm, and I knew I was on a 24 hour clock.  Then supper time came, and we did another pitocin break so I could eat and we could "wash the receptors" in my uterus that they thought were being overloaded.  It meant starting back on the pit at half of what I was on when we quit, but overnight we got back up to speed pretty quickly.  

Super-cozy accommodations
At 5:20 in the morning, I was snoozing lightly while Ethan slept on a pull-out chair for the third night in a row.  Dr. Abtahi, who had been my night doctor the last three days, came in to check my cervix.  I was surprised when she said I was dilated to... 5cm.  I'd been at 5cm for a whole day.  She left to call Dr. Kovac, one of the doctors in my MFM practice.  When she came back in, she told us that she and Dr. Kovac thought it was time for a c-section.  Ethan was starting to come to at the point, and we both readily agreed.  It was about 5:30, and I asked her what kind of a timeline we were on... expecting her to say a few hours... she said, "Oh, maybe thirty minutes or so?" 
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