Archive for the ‘health & fitness’ Category

Saturday morning dyads

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

Our girls got some one-on-one dyad time today. Cate and Sam both slept well, and we woke to sun and a beautiful forecast. However, they woke with different ideas about how to spend the morning, so we split up.

Bill took Cate to the Houston Zoo, for some time with the big cats and a couple rides on the carousel. They had hotdogs and goldfish for lunch, and then came home.

At the same time, I drove Sam with her helmet and running-bici to Buffalo Bayou. She’s stronger and faster than ever, and I had to jog to keep up with her! Sadly, she lost control on the first downhill, drifted into a retaining wall, then tumbled ass-over-teakettle onto the path and scraped her lip. But after a good long hug and a short discussion of the importance of aiming for the middle of the path and how to use two feet as brakes, she was up and running her bike down the hill.

Every time I tried to suggest that we turn back, Sam insisted that we press on, until we looped both ped bridges — from Rosemont to Jackson Hill — and back. She only stopped to sit and rest on a bench when we came to the amazing new dog park. Once she caught her breath, Sam declared for going in to check it out and play with some pups. We even made friends with a young woman named Jamie and her little dog, Hank.

Eventually, I convinced Sam to head on up the final hill — jogging now, while I carried her bike — to the shiny letter people next to Montrose. Then across the Rosemont bridge and back to my van. A surprising 1.8 miles later, she was so tuckered out that when my car door didn’t open immediately, she plopped down on the grass to wait.

During the ride home, she devoured *two* cereal bars back to back, and once home, devoured the rest of her eggs from breakfast. Bill and Cate returned momentarily, and then both girls went down for good, long (3-hour) naps. Good Saturday!

Speed blogging: not the fiber

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Since we started the girls on “solid” food a month ago, especially rice and oat cereals, they have struggled with constipation.

To get them regular again, we started giving them vegetables, like peas, and offering additional water to help keep things soft, but that hasn’t solved the problem yet.

This week, we added prunes and pears, which have laxative properties, to the mix. I can’t tell whether they helped or not, because four loose “movements” later, it’s clear Sam has picked up a gut bug. Poor kid is continuing to have a rough week. I don’t know who we got it from.

The pediatrician’s office says the worst should pass in a day or three, and it will be over in 5-14 days. They didn’t say what our chances are of not all getting it.

I washed all their linens, boiled all the nipples and most of the hard toys, and disinfected a bunch of others today. And we’re not sharing spoons or bottles anymore. I don’t know if we can keep Cate (or the rest of us) from getting it, but it seemed to be worth trying for. Wish us luck.

What a long strange 12 days it’s been…

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

A lot has happened in the last two weeks:

  • Oct 7 – Readmitted to hospital with pre-eclampsia (dangerous, pregnancy-induced hypertension)
  • Oct 10 – Scheduled for cesarean section the next morning
  • Oct 11 – Water broke, Samantha and Catherine delivered (34 weeks and 6 days) at 8:10 am. I hemorhaged for 4-5 hours and lost 2 1/2 liters of blood but survived, and with all my parts intact
  • Oct 12 – both girls graduated from IVs to eating
  • Oct 16 – both girls graduated from heated isolettes to open cribs
  • Oct 17 – all three of us were deemed healthy enough to go home, so we did

Today is day 3 of our (somewhat chaotic, or incredibly simple, depending on your perspective) new life at home together as a family of four. There’s a lot I want to say about the last two weeks, especially the not-dying part, as much for my memory as for you to read. I also have a couple of cute photos and videos of our tiny girls. I think you’ll enjoy those.

Now that I have a hands-free pumping bustier, and 6-10 pumping sessions a day, I aspire to fire up my laptop and revisit the world of internet. But in the meantime, let me just say thanks for all of the support and encouragement (and stuff) we’ve received during the last month. We truly couldn’t do this without you.


Fertnal: When I asked for a second hospital tour…

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

… I was thinking it would be nice to revisit Woman’s Hospital and review the lay of the land before we had to come “for real” in a few more weeks. Two admissions in six days is *not* what I had in mind.

First off, our girls are fine. They’re growing like crazy — both over 5 pounds each now — they still make time for “swim practice” several times a day, and they’re cooperating with periodic fetal monitoring. Based on their heart rates, one nurse today described them as “the prettiest girls on the floor,” which I’m sure she says to all the moms, but it’s still nice to hear. So the babies are still inside me and taking whatever they need.

How okay I will be for how long remains to be seen.

After 20+ weeks of boringly healthy pregnancy, I surfaced some issues on Friday, Oct 1st, at our 33-week checkup. I knew I’d been feeling dehydrated (and peeing less), and that my blood pressure had been up for several days (140/85, which is significantly higher than my pre-pregnancy 110/70). However, I was caught off guard when the nurse detected protein in my routine urine sample. After the ultrasound, they had me sit in the waiting room for two hours, drink 3-4 bottles (~80 oz) of water, and test again to demonstrate that my kidneys could clear the protein if given enough fluid to work with. I did, and they sent me home admonished to work harder at staying hydrated. They indicated that if I did that, my BP should improve.

However, on Saturday, Oct 2nd, I woke up with an intestinal bug that seemed determined to eject any and all of the fluids I was consuming out the other end. By evening I couldn’t pee at all (which is obviously the opposite of staying hydrated), and my BP was up off and on all day, peaking at 162/94(!!!) near bedtime. After I got the scary high BP reading, I called Dr. K’s answering service, talked with the doctor on call, and got sent to Woman’s for overnight tests and observation by the labor & delivery team.

They did a bunch of monitoring to confirm that I was not in pre-term labor. Phew! They did a bunch of lab work which confirmed that I was seriously dehydrated, but my liver enzymes were normal which meant I had not developed pre-eclampsia. They said I would need to take it easier and make sure my BP doesn’t keep creeping up. After 7 hours and 2 liters of IV saline later, they sent me home with “just” a gut bug.

The upside is I essentially got a trial run of going to the hospital for delivery. The labor & delivery floor was super quiet between midnight and 6 am, and I was my nurse’s only patient, so I got to ask lots of questions. (Interesting revelations: getting an IV feels ok if they shoot lidocaine first, and cold saline via IV can give you chills from the inside out. Funniest advice: if you’re planning to have an epidural, shave your back before you go to avoid the “wax job” when the anesthesiologist removes the catheter and all the tape afterward.) The trip left me less nervous about the whole hospital process, and that was a good thing.

* * *
I stayed sick and tired for several days, but I worked to drink more water, and I kept expecting to feel better. But as this week wore on, I could tell I was getting dehydrated again. Thursday afternoon I had a revelation: I remembered the part of my twin pregnancy book that says sitting reclined with the full weight of two babies (and placentas and amniotic fluid) on your kidneys will impair renal function, and it’s essential to spend lots of time lying down on your side, especially late in the pregnancy. I abandoned my laptop, moved to the couch, drank more water, and sure enough: I returned to having to pee every hour. Woo-hoo! I was delighted to have found a solution to my problem!

Except my blood pressures didn’t come down at all Thursday night, and they were up all day yesterday, too. When I went in for our 34-week checkup, the nurse found even more protein in my urine and Dr. K surmised that I’m developing pre-eclampsia, or pregnancy-induced hypertension. (He said that being a first-time mom, 40, and carrying twins all make me a “prime candidate” for developing pre-eclampsia.) If unmitigated, pre-eclampsia can impair blood flow to the babies and/or damage my kidneys, liver, brain, and other vital organs. It’s life-threatening, and the only cure is to deliver the babies (which at 34 weeks, I’m not yet eager to do).

So I was admitted to the hospital again last night for more testing and monitoring. Dr. K said I should expect to be here until at least Monday, and prepared to deliver the babies sometime next week. (Yikes!) On the one hand, my initial blood work yesterday was all normal, and one nurse said that since I don’t have the “full constellation” of pre-eclamptic problems, I may be able to “limp along” on bed rest (here and/or at home) and still make it a few more weeks toward my due date. On the other hand, the results of the essential kidney tests aren’t back yet and I won’t see a doctor again until Sunday afternoon, so it’s too soon to speculate what’s next. Wish us luck.

p.s. That took about all the sitting up I have in me tonight, so I’m going to hit post. However, Bill and my Mom each took some interesting photos and I aspire to come back and add them when I’m able.

UPDATE (from Bill): Bob concluded her fist 24 hour kidney function test (yes, foreshadowing…), and her protein levels were still too high. As a result, Sunday morning will find Bob re-starting the test(at 4 a.m.), which will then obviously run through into Monday morning. Add a couple of hours for them to get the results back, and something on the order of 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. would be when we might be done with this latest episode. That being said, we might also end-up determining that it’s time to pull the rip-cord on the girls. If that happens, we’ll try to let everyone know as timely as we can. For my part, I’ve got most of a UPS truck of stuff arriving on Tuesday from Amazon. Time to make the donuts, er, um, cribs…

Fertnal: Bob’s ever-growing belly at 32 weeks

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

My cousin Emily is pregnant right now, too, and she observed:

By now you have probably seen some pictures of my belly from Jean (and Facebook), but we haven’t seen any of you!

Looking back, I realize that I haven’t posted any progressing belly photos since July. Needless to say, I’ve grown some since then. ;-D

Here’s how big my belly was on Wednesday at 32 weeks:

Bob at 32 weeks
Bob at 32 weeks

And here’s how things looked getting here over the last ten weeks (click for larger):

Bob belly progress
Bob’s belly at 22, 24, and 26 weeks

Bob belly progress
Bob’s belly at 28, 30, and 32 weeks

I saw Dr. K about ten days ago and he said our girls are doing great! Baby A was up to 3 lbs 11 oz and Baby B was up to 3 lbs 12 oz, which is about average for babies in general but big for twins. I’m thrilled that all this effort I’m exerting to eat, drink, and take the recommended supplements seems to be working! What’s more, they should theoretically each have gained another half pound in the last week, too. That means I’m carrying around 8 pounds of babies and counting.

I would ordinarily post ultrasound footage here, but it’s less picturesque than sometimes. Both babies have rotated so that their spines are toward my front and their faces are toward my back, which precluded getting pretty pictures of their faces. We see Dr. K again on Sept 30th, and maybe they’ll smile for us then.

I also asked Dr. K about my risk for pre-term labor, since twins often come early (35 weeks is average). He said that everything looks great so far and he thinks I could make it to 37 or 38 weeks, which is term for twins. Wish us luck!

In the meantime, here’s what evenings look like around here these days. I run out of steam and head for the couch to lie down and put my feet up by about 6:00 pm, plus or minus an hour. And while Tibbs was initially thwarted by my belly, he has now mastered lying on my side. Every now and again one of the girls will kick her feet which makes Tibbs’ head go up and down in a funny way, but he tolerates it.

Tibbs racked out on top of the girls

p.s. Emily and her husband John just moved to Finland, and she started a new blog, Under the Northern Sky, to chronicle their adventures. If you’re curious about life in northern Europe, check it out!

Emily in Finland
Emily in Finland!

Fertnal: Good news from the lab…

Monday, September 19th, 2011

When I reached 29 weeks pregnant, Dr. K sent me back to the lab for some third trimester blood work, to test for gestational diabetes and anemia. Gestational diabetes only affects 3-4% of singleton moms, but 7% of twin moms. Fortunately, I passed my glucose challenge test, so no diabetes here, at least not yet.

On the other hand, my lab work showed I’m anemic… again… which is apparently unsurprising because most moms of multiples eventually develop iron-deficiency anemia. When the nurse called with the results, she said, “I bet you’re feeling more tired than usual,” to which I replied, “and how!” I had reached the point that despite spending 11-12 hours a night in bed (sleeping in 2-hour increments), I only had the energy to dress, eat, and sit at my desk, and that for only 5-6 hours a day. Simple puttering in the house had become too taxing and running errands was right out. She added that I shouldn’t worry about the babies because “the little leaches are taking everything they need” from me. The challenge is ensuring that I get what I need, too.

Fortunately, anemia is treatable. The nurse had me add another iron supplement to my prenatal vitamin, make a point to wash them down with OJ (because ascorbic acid improves absorption), and further ratchet up my consumption of red meat and other iron-rich foods. Personally, I’m viewing anemia as justification to add fois gras to the shopping list because duck liver is an excellent (and tasty!) source of iron. It’s for the babies, really.

The first day of iron supplement plus OJ was rough on my stomach, but I’ve worked it out, and a week later I’m genuinely feeling better. On Saturday I managed an hour or two of puttering and sorting around the house, and today I washed dishes, did laundry, and even made it out to run errands and buy cat food. It’s still extremely frustrating that “planning my day” means prioritizing the one or two things I can accomplish in a scant hour or two of up-and-about energy, but I am grateful to have at least that much back. I hope I can keep it up!

Fertnal: Kicking is now a team sport!

Friday, July 29th, 2011

July 27th marked 24 weeks pregnant with our two baby girls. On Friday morning, I lay on my side in bed for a little while, contemplating becoming vertical. Baby B was being active and I was enjoying feeling her move, when I suddenly realized:

“Wait a minute! I felt that kick in my wrist draped across my belly and not just in my belly!”

Bill was in our home office and I called for him to come join me. He crawled back into bed behind me and wrapped his arm over my side so I could press his hand against the top of my belly, and we waited. Sure enough, Baby B kicked again a few minutes later and Bill felt it, too. He later posted this as his Facebook status:

Felt one of the velociraptors kick today for the first time. Countdown to fatherhood well on its way…

Later that night, it was Baby A’s turn. We pressed Bill’s hand to the right underside of my belly and sure enough, Baby A kicked him, too.

They’re small gestures, I know, and these girls still have three months of growing to do. But the fact that they’re now big and strong enough that we can feel their antics outside as well as in is pretty damned exciting. And while our budget needs for Bill to find his next job soon, I am thrilled that he was home to share this experience with me!

Fertnal: 22 weeks in and babies growing well!

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

As of Wednesday, I’m 22 weeks pregnant (out of 37-38 weeks) and I’m feeling it. My belly gets in the way when I bend over and sleeping on my stomach (as I did for the first 39 years of my life) is completely out of the question.

Bob's 22-week belly
Bob’s babies belly at 22 weeks

My uterus has expanded nearly to my rib cage and these girls are now squishing my digestive system. I’m having to learn to eat just half to two-thirds of a meal at a time or else it ends up in my esophagus instead of my stomach. (As an aside, I imagine this is what it’s like if one has gastric banding surgery for weight loss. It’s a little weird to have to change years of eating habits, but doable.)

I’ve also noticed my first Braxton Hicks contractions this week. It’s disconcerting to have my belly abruptly go from squishy to hard, and vaguely uncomfortable, too. But so far they’re only happening a few times a day. Dr. K reassured me that they’re entirely normal and nothing to worry about, unless the frequency increases to 5 or more contractions an hour. He encouraged me to drink more water because dehydration can cause contractions.

These girls are growing like crazy and Dr. K says “their growth is really good.” He estimates that Baby A is up to 1 lb 2 oz, which puts her in the 52nd percentile of all babies. Baby B is slightly smaller at 1 lb 1 oz, which puts her in the 48th percentile of all babies. If we were further along (i.e. 37 weeks), 50th percentile for all babies would be 90th percentile for twins, but this early the growth rates are still comparable. (As another aside, I wonder whether fetal percentiles have swelled during the last generation the same way childhood percentiles have swelled, in which case I wouldn’t want 90th percentile babies!)

Feel free to watch our ultrasound exam. Most of the 11 minutes is measuring skulls and brain structures and long bones and heart rates. But it also includes some amazing 3D motion video of each girl. See the first minute for Baby A, and 7:50 for Baby B. (For larger viewing, download the VGA-resolution Quicktime file (926 mb .mov) to your computer and play it locally.)

Get the Flash Player to see this video.

Update: When I checked my twins pregnancy book, it said I should be drinking 8 16-oz glasses of water a day (a half gallon), which is about double what I had been managing. As soon as I upped my daily water consumption, I stopped having contractions. Phew!

Fertnal: Exciting happenings in my belly!

Monday, July 4th, 2011

From my perspective, the growth of my belly isn’t nearly as exciting as the growth in my belly.

A month ago, I could only feel Baby B fluttering, down behind my right hip bone. Baby A was nestled way down deep in my pelvis and I couldn’t feel her. But now, everything has rearranged. The babies have grown so much that they now fill the space up to my diaphragm. (As an unexpected benefit, Baby A isn’t crowding my bladder as much, and I can now sleep up to 5 hours at a time. What a relief!)

As a result of all this rearranging, this week for the first time, I felt them both moving at the same time: Baby A in my lower abdomen and Baby B up above and to the right of my belly button. But that’s not the best part.

On Saturday afternoon, Bill and I were reclining on the couch watching stage 1 of the Tour de France, and Tibbs was sleeping on my belly. (It took him a week to figure out how to sleep on my ever-expanding belly without falling off, but now he has the hang of it. Clever Kitty!)

All was still, until Bill sneezed. Then two things happened:

  • Tibbs abruptly flinched. He didn’t run away, but he did jostle my belly.
  • Then a moment later, Baby B kicked back.

It was a small gesture, but it was plainly volitional. So our girls have become interactive. How cool is that?!?

Fertnal: Bob’s big(ger by the day) belly!

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Our friend Elizabeth is also pregnant, and she posted some adorable belly photos on Friday. Several of you have asked me to post some belly photos, too, so here you go (click for larger):

Bob's belly progression
Bob’s belly at 16 weeks, 18 weeks, and 20 weeks 5 days

My belly is almost as big as Eli’s now… except that she’s at about 34 weeks and I’m just approaching 21 weeks. Her son will be ready for delivery in 4-6 weeks; our little girls need to cook for another 3 1/2 months. At the rate I’m growing, I’ll be big as a house by the end of summer.

To be fair, Eli is super fit and I’m not; but I’m also big early to give our girls the best odds of going full term. A singleton pregnancy lasts 40 weeks on average. Twin babies are ready for delivery by 38 weeks, but the average twin mom only makes it to 35 weeks. Premature delivery not only makes for expensive NICU stays, but also significantly increases the risk of developmental delays. One of the strongest determinants of pre-term delivery is size: the slower the babies are growing, the more likely they are to come prematurely.

I’m working hard to feed these girls well now, to help ensure they stay in me until they’re fully cooked. So far it’s working: both of our babies consistently measure a day or two ahead of their gestational age, which is a very good sign. (For reference, they’re about 10 inches long now.) I’m doing well, but it’s going to get a lot harder.

Apparently, moms of singletons are able to eat enough to meet the nutritional needs of a baby throughout a pregnancy. That’s why there are lots of super fit moms who nonetheless deliver healthy, full-term babies. But that doesn’t work with more than one baby. First, multiple babies take up so much room inside that they crowd your digestive system early on, limiting how much you can eat. Already, I can no longer eat a full meal at one sitting; there’s just isn’t room in my stomach. If you have seen the meals Bill has been serving me, please know that I can’t actually eat all of that!

Second, in the final months of pregnancy, multiple babies require more nourishment than it’s physically possible to consume in a day. That means you better have some fat stored ahead of time in order to meet both their and your physical requirements. Over the course of this twin pregnancy, I’m supposed to gain between 40 and 50 pounds, and… gain it all by 28 weeks. Having gained 30 pounds so far, I’m ostensibly right on schedule.

So in theory, gaining all this weight is good for our babies. But while I understand that intellectually, it’s incredibly disconcerting to watch my belly expand by the day.