Body body, selfish body.

mepreggers34weeks

I find so many things can live inside the worried mind of a mother-to-be. I have never known such a mix of joy, excitement, worry, and loneliness,

We were told last week that boy baby (Twin B) is not growing at a proper rate. He has slowed down. When there are two placentas, and both of the placentas look the same size and both look healthy they essentially say, “We don’t know what causes this to happen.” There is a general agreed upon understanding that it could be that only one of the babes got the ultimate spot for circulation and the other babe had to settle for second best which would leave him with less nutrients. The doctor then told me that I wasn’t allowed to even shop at Costco and that I had to spend at least 6 of my day time hours laying down on my left side. He also spoke very briefly about underdevelopment of little boy baby. All of these things filled my heart with fear. … and Fear loves to have my thoughts, my time, my allegiance. But, I refuse to live in a place that gives fear more glory than God and thoughts of death more time than thoughts of life. We have now been going to fetal monitoring twice a week and everything has seemed fine, although, it is not always that easy to tell, I am taking it one day at a time.

I am now officially 34 weeks, so as long as those babes are doing okay, they are pretty much ready to go.

My body.
I have more stretch marks than any pregnant woman I have ever seen, and even when I look up stretch marked bellies on google images, mine are right up there with the most covered. I am calling myself the purple tiger. My right side has significantly more of them as they stretch out the length onto my back and pull forward because of the right side being more full of baby stuff.

At the beginning of my pregnancy I was constantly looking up and pinning all the exercises that I could do while pregnant and what worked the best to keep your body as close to your pre-preggo size. Then I was told that I wasn’t allowed to exercise. So, I started pinning all the post pregnancy work outs that had all the pictures of women that I would obviously want to look like. I was in such a place that when they told me that I am most likely going to have a cesarean (due to the positioning of the little ones), I was vainly calculating how much longer I would have to wait to run and begin to get my “normal” body back. I was grieved about the cesarean for that simple reason: longer recovery.

And my selfishness rules my mind.

I was standing in front of the mirror one day staring at my stretch marks and feeling upset about them and how stretched I am and how I would always have these marks in one way or another, and I felt God say to me, “Jaki, I don’t want you to value what the world values.” …. “And I don’t want you to teach your little girl to value those things.” For the record: I don’t believe that God was telling me that he wants me to live an unhealthy lifestyle in my weight and food etc. But, He was telling me to get over myself. To see the beauty in carrying two little lives. To know that those lives are more precious than any flabby skin or tiger tread upon what is mostly a private part.

He was asking me to teach my little girl the value of the human life as not seen through the lens of “how skinny?” or “how pretty?” … if I view myself through that lens, then by modeling it, I will constantly and consistently speak that into her even if it isn’t in my words.

It is a journey that I have never mastered: looking in the mirror and being happy with what I see. I am not “self conscious” and I am not timid in myself, and I probably put on confidence in that area really well as I have never WANTED to value that so highly. Even still that monster lives in me, seeking constantly to tell me all the reasons why my body doesn’t measure up. SO …  I am trying it out. I am staring at my belly in the mirror and saying, “wow body, you are cool, bearing life and all.” … and warming up to this idea that something of that magnitude could truly, actually reach my inner self. My body is incredible. It sweats, it digests, it walks, it builds callouses up on my feet in the summer so I can trod barefoot wherever I please.  It laughs loud, bends where it should, hears noises and grows hair exuberantly…

big belly

So I know… the first picture I posted is FAR more appealing to look at, but at least some of you ladies can say, “wow, at least I don’t have THAT many stretch marks” hahahaha. This is my beautiful belly. It is stretching as it holds life that is growing and moving and kicking. I am huge. And in all honesty, with every bit of me, I desire that those babies would get bigger and healthier inside of me and so… consequently, I guess I desire to get bigger.

I am heavy and sore with limbs that go numb or shoot pain. I am still nauseous almost every day and yet, the wait now is only 3 more weeks and I will be holding two little humans, two little personalities, two little dreamers. And I have been told that I will be more tired than I ever imagined possible.

And as they grow, I will know love deeper than I have ever known it.

Wise leaders have told me that the first real challenge to your selfishness is marriage and the second and far greater one is parenting. …. so, little babies…. here is my body, do as you will to stay healthy and continue to grow. I will seek to love this tent that God gave me that is blessed to house you for such a time as this.

There is a “Higher Chance” with Twins

I thought that I would document some of the medical stuff that we have gone through so far. I am currently in my 31st week. I am going to warn anyone willing to read that I will share with a certain degree of detail what some of the stuff that I went through was like. I am choosing to do this not to be disgusting or anything of the like, but because when I was going through some of it, the only things that I could find online were either significantly lacking in details that may have helped, or they were simply telling me all the bad news.

I start by saying that my twins are dichorionic/diamniotic, which is shortened to di-di. This is the most common type of twin pregnancy and carries the lowest risks to both mama and babies. Fraternal twins are always di-di. Identical twins can be di-di if the fertilized egg split very early, but it is not as common. We know that my little ones are fraternal for sure because they are a boy and a girl. Di-di means that they have their own placentas and they also have their own amniotic sacs.

Having said that di-di twins have the lowest risks of all twin pregnancies, I will state that any twin pregnancy is considered “high risk” and any symptom that I have gone over with my OB/GYN she describes it as either “normal” or “less normal, but as always, a higher risk with twins.”

I shared in my last post that I had a subchorionic Hemorrhaging (also called a chorionic hematoma). This is described as an accumulation of blood within the folds of the chorion (the outer fetal membrane, next to the placenta) or sometimes, within the layers of the placenta itself. This bleeding can cause the placenta to tear off from the uterine wall. Sometimes the bleeding stops for days, and sometimes it is continuous.
— My bleeding had turned brown and clumpy, which the doctors described as a good thing because that was showing as “old blood.” After my first miscarriage scare I took sanctum in this fact. Then it came, a fateful day when I was sitting at my desk working on an art project when I felt like I had peed my pants, they were so wet. I ran to the washroom and found bright red blood flowing out of me. I actually thought that I was going crazy. I literally considered that maybe I was fooling myself and that I was just peeing blood, “maybe this is what a UTI is like?” But, I checked, and it was definitely coming from my baby part.
— They decided that I was probably having a miscarriage and that is when I was set up with the ultrasound that I shared about in my last post where we saw their heartbeats for the first time. This was miscarriage scare #2.

I have an under active thyroid. It’s a lovely thing to have when you read the baby books and within the lists they say, “this is not very common, but there is a higher chance if: – you are carrying multiples -if you have a thyroid disorder etc” I am going to explain that in my next post… because it is a little bit complicated.

Here are some other symptoms I have been having in my twin pregnancy (most of them being normal):
– swollen feet and hands
– very sore back, upper and lower
– tailbone inflammation (This started at the beginning of 2nd trimester and I have been told by the doctors that it is likely because one of the babes has implanted on the lower back of my uterus) I feel this pain worse when I am sitting but, like my back pain, it is not relieved when I lie down.
– Nausea. Nausea. Nausea. It is different now than it was in first and second trimester. Now its, “you eat more than a little, I am gunna get rid of it” essentially boy baby is pressing up against my stomach and so if I eat say, a full meal, then most of it reappears to me within half an hour. This sick feeling doesn’t really dissipate, it always sort of lingers.
– heart burn
– My hair. …. it isn’t curly anymore… it’s just fuzzy.
– Plantar Fasciitis – this is typically a sports injury but it happens in pregnancy because the relaxin in your bloodstream relaxes all the joints in your foot, and then you have all this extra weight pushing down, and so your arches start to collapse, ie you overpronate while you walk. This causes damage to the fascia. And…. it hurts a lot.
– Carpal Tunnel – I also didn’t know this could happen because of pregnancy. It happens when the carpal tunnel in your wrist (the tube that the nerves going to your hand and fingers run through) swells and compresses. Since everything is swelling and compressing, voila! Why not this little tunnel? What it feels like is… tingling and numbness. Every time I wake up in the middle of the night, I have no feeling in my fingers at all. While I walk to the washroom, I smack my hands together to bring the feeling back. Tingles happen at any time. Just sitting and chilling, my hands will get tingly all over, sometimes in an uncomfortable/painful way, and sometimes just in a “it fell to sleep” kinda way.
– Cholestasis of pregnancy – I am currently waiting for my blood work to come back to confirm or deny Cholestasis. There are three things that they always list will give you a “higher chance” of developing this: 1. You have had it in a previous pregnancy 2. You are carrying multiples 3. Another woman in your family (blood relative) has had it. I am carrying two and my mom also had it. My mom had not previously mentioned this to me, so I had never even thought of telling my OB/GYN that I had horribly itchy hands. … Well, turns out that is the most common thing that people notice with Cholestasis. It affects about 1/1000 pregnancies. So, what is this thing? Apparently, it typically happens in third trimester when your preggy hormones are on a all out rampage through your body and doing things like slowing down your digestive system. Essentially, cholestasis impairs the bile flow from the liver. So, eventually the build-up of bile in the liver allows the bile acids to enter the bloodstream… and in short, those acids can get to the babes. The symptoms on mama really don’t matter that much… there are a list of them… the main one being itchiness. The freaky thing is that this can cause “fetal distress” and increase the risk of stillbirth. … just what we need on our minds…. the “increased risk” or the “higher chance”.
– My cervix had thinned at about 28 weeks, increasing my risk of preterm labour. That was when I was told I couldn’t go on my late night walks anymore.

Over and over again I take in all the talk about “higher chances” of loss with cholestasis, hypothyroidism, subchorionic hemorrhaging etc etc etc. These “risks” seek to own my thoughts, rule in my heart and speak into the trajectory of my emotional state. Surely, at times, they rule. And I hate that I allow them to. God is a God who gives life, (and he also takes it away) and the worry should not have a say in my mind or my heart. I feel two little lives in me. I feel them roll and stretch and kick into their boundaries set by my body. I am aware that there are humans in there with their own wills and dreams to live out. I am not allowing fear to win in this place. I don’t want to parent by making decisions out of fear, and I don’t intend to start a habit of honouring fear now.

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Discovering a Life, Fear of Loss, and Life Again

Not unlike any moms story, my journey began with strange and subtle changes to my body.

I was running one morning in the gym on our campus with my group of work out gals, and I was convinced that I was about to have the worst period ever, because my nipples had never been in so much pain. They were burning against my sport bra. … now I am not the smallest person, so there is quite a lot of movement possible, and I felt every bit of it. I actually had to stop running because it was hurting so much. The young girls I was with had no idea (as I work on campus at a college, these were all young girls, about age 20 who have only dreamed of their mothering days to come).

I went away to a tournament to referee in the BC AA provincials which would decide what teams will go to compete in the Nationals. I had been running about 10k four times a week in my preparation to referee Nationals, and this weekends games should not have been a challenge. Behold: it was as if I was skating through thick, dense mud. I was completely exhausted.

Monday morning after I got back, I slept in and felt destroyed by my being away. I felt sick. Nauseous. I got myself to a store and grabbed the old faithful pee test. So, I sat on my toilet, alone, in my dorm room watching as the little sign turned into a very clear positive. …. I tried calling my husband at work about ten times then called my mom and cried… life was going to change.

The next few weeks were the most tumultuous roller coaster ride that my emotions had ever been on. I was in Calgary at week 6 refereeing a National Ringette League game when I started bleeding. I broke down and cried with the girl I was with worrying that I was having a miscarriage. She lovingly took me to a walk in clinic where the doctor shook his head at me and said, “didn’t your doctor tell you how likely this was… you shouldn’t have gotten your hopes up.”

I flew home early and cried all night. I prayed.

The next day I went to the hospital and after being in emergency for hours I was given an ultrasound that was decided as inconclusive. It was too early to tell. So, they set me up with another ultrasound the next day.

The next day my husband and I went in and we had the… ahem… more invasive ultrasound and it was a long time in waiting as the young lady doing it had to have three other people, one at a time come in and look at the screen… then she called in my husband. We were both covered in tears.

She showed us the screen and said, “here is an embryonic sac with the embryo…. and here is the other embryonic sac with another embryo.” We were officially considered an “early twin gestation” and we cried even harder, laughed hysterically and learned a feeling of relief that is unworldly.

After that I had a whole lot of nausea and vomiting as well as a deep desire to eat beef, which was funny, because before that I ate very little meat at all. I found that I was still able to exercise and ran in the St Patty’s Day 5k Race. I still had regular bleeding but it was not heavy.

One day at about 9 weeks I was getting ready to go to a doctors appointment and my bleeding became a constant bright red flow. I didn’t own any pads, so I ran down the hall to the girls dorm and into a girls room and grabbed some big diaper type pads from her. On my 20 minute drive to the doctors, I had filled that pad. I changed as I gave my pee sample and I told the nurse at reception… She went and talked to the doctor and came out and told me that the doctor didn’t want to see me until I had had an ultrasound because she could see red debris even in my urine sample and they were assuming a miscarriage.

My husband and I were in this spot again. Crying like we never knew that we could… processing… grieving. I bled heavily and consistently for about 12 hours. We went to the ultrasound the next day and when I pulled in, my husband pulled out two small jewelry boxes and showed me that he had placed little flowers in them. He asked me if we could go bury them and be together after everything was confirmed. I won’t expound on my reaction. It wasn’t kind.

My husband in the waiting room could hear me crying, he was clenching his chair and wanted to run in and hold me and not allow me to go through the pain of loss alone. When they finally called him in, he saw me crying and smiling… lost for words… the technician showed us both our tiny people’s heartbeats… they assumed the bleeding had been caused by quite a large subchorionic hemorrhaging.

My doctor asked me to do no exercise other than swimming and light walking, she informed me that the hemorrhaging may stay through the entire pregnancy and it increases the risk of losing the babies… so care is to be taken.

At 12 weeks, we announced our pregnancy, so happy that we had made it that far… that there were two little humans alive in me with their own heartbeats and everything.

In my emotional roller coaster, even as I was writing this out, my heart goes out to all those moms who experience miscarriages – thousands every year. It is so “common” that it can often be overlooked. I know in my young mind I had never processed the pain and loss that could be felt in it. I never recognized that such a deep connection could be had when that tiny human is only weeks old… but I know now. Forgive me my ignorance. That loss is a true loss. It should not be allowed to steal away hope for the future and the lives that will follow, but the sorrow is deep, constricting and needs to be allowed the time to grieve. I pray that mothers going through this would be comforted as they mourn.