Titus 2:11-13

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus."

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Premature Trip to Labor & Delivery

Today has been a more eventful day than I would like to have had at 28 1/2 weeks of pregnancy.  But praise God I am at home to tell about it....

Yesterday morning I started having some random menstrual cramps and a low, dull backache, both of which are warning signs of preterm labor.  I wasn't confident that anything was actually wrong, but as a precaution I rested on the couch while drinking several glasses of water in hopes that the feelings would go away.  Then after eating the lunch my husband so kindly stepped up to prepare, I laid down for a two-hour nap thinking that the cramps were perhaps fatigue induced and would be remedied by a little much-needed sleep.  And they were!

This morning, however, I woke up with the same low, dull backache and some slight feelings of pressure that were enough to make me consider calling my doctor.  By mid-morning I had almost talked myself out of calling when a trip to the bathroom made me seriously consider the possibility of a urinary tract infection.  Knowing that UTIs can cause preterm labor, I immediately called my doctor thinking he would send me in for a simple UA.  Instead I was told to head in to Labor & Delivery for a non-stress test and to have my cervix checked.

Once at the hospital I was hooked up to the monitors three times--one monitor for each baby and one for my uterus.  A test which detects the hormone that would be present if preterm labor was indeed occurring was done, and that was sent along with my urine sample to the lab.

The babies looked great (Praise God!) and their monitors were removed shortly.  I remained on the monitor, however, which was showing some "irritability" of the uterus but not any contractions.  After lying down on the uncomfortable exam table for a while, I had the nurse adjust my bed so that I was sitting fairly erect.  Not long after changing positions, I started noticing some tightenings that peaked with a feeling of increased pressure and noted that the monitor was picking up a contraction in each of these instances.

When the nurse returned to tell me the hormone test came back negative (meaning the hormone for preterm labor was not present) and that the UA looked clean, she also said, "But you are having some contractions."  I asked if that had anything to do with my changing positions, and she said that the monitors were just getting a better reading that way.  She then gave me a shot of terbutaline to stop the contractions and checked my cervix.  The external side of my cervix is dilated to 1 cm, but because it is still high and thick, she was unable to feel all the way through to the internal side (which may or may not be dilated).

I was monitored for another hour and a half after receiving the shot to make sure it was effective in stopping the contractions (and it was) and was then checked again (revealing no further cervical change) before being dismissed to go home.

Although they are classifying what happened today as preterm labor, I was not given any restrictions in my activity.  Basically, I am to take it easy and not do anything that I don't have to do.  As for the suspected UTI, the nurse advised me to request another test for it at my next OB appointment in case it's just not showing up in my urine yet.

Fortunately, Abel and Amariah are staying with Travis' parents this week, which will make "taking it easy" a much more feasible option.  Perhaps it was God in His all-knowing sovereignty that prompted me to send them away this week.  I look at this as just another sign that He knows just what I need.

Please partner with us in prayer that these babies will not be born until they are ready and that my body will be strong for the task of carrying them to term.  I look forward to meeting my babies, but not yet!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I Was Healing

This afternoon has been a bit emotional for me.  I've been working on uploading all of our pictures to Shutterfly (for purposes of printing as well as online photo sharing), and today brought me to July 2008.

As I was working my way through our 2008 photos, I was somewhat surprised by my ability to recall the exact events surrounding each snapshot; and each of these memories was bringing a joyous feeling to my heart.

Then I came to July 14, 2008.  These pictures didn't spark the same joyous feeling or happy memory but instead brought back the feeling of loss that will forever characterize that day--the day I miscarried our baby Ande Lynn.

I lingered on these pictures for a bit as I again recalled the exact events--and the physical and emotional pain--surrounding the snapshots.  And then I moved on.

What surprised me is that the next several photos I encountered brought back even more sad emotion than the ones of the miscarriage had.  And I realized as I looked at them that they were telling the story of my mourning... and of my healing.

Three days after the miscarriage, the next time our camera was used, I had taken pictures of Abel and Amariah opening gifts which Travis and I had given them for no special occasion.  The occasion, I recall, was that in my grieving I was becoming so thankful for the children I did have with me on this Earth that I was feeling the need to pour out my love on them in different and greater ways.  So I had gone shopping and picked for each of them one new toy as a way of expressing my overwhelming love and gratitude for them.

Another two days later, Travis and I had taken a picture of ourselves preparing to begin our first big house painting project.  This project, I recall, gave me both purpose for my time and togetherness with my husband, both of which I needed as I tried to move past the grieving.

And again another two days later, a friend of ours had taken a picture of Travis and me all dressed up for a nice date.  This date, I recall, was like a refuge from the storm; and it gave me the reassuring feeling of my husband's love that I so desperately needed to feel.

I realize now that even in my mourning, I was healing.  The pictures tell the story.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

He is Near

The nearness of God hasn't been so real to me in a while as it was in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

About the time Travis and I were getting ready for bed Saturday night, an overwhelming feeling of nausea overcame me.  I knew that eating a little protein would perhaps help, but I was already past the point of being able to eat.  (If you've ever had morning sickness, you probably know what I mean.)  I laid down in bed hoping the nausea would ease off and wondering if I was coming down with something.

I slept for a couple hours until my full bladder awakened me.  As I stumbled back from the bathroom and climbed into bed, my half-asleep husband asked me if I was feeling better; and I told him I was too tired to be able to tell.  A few minutes later, though, I knew without a doubt that I wasn't feeling better.  As I lay in bed attempting to fall back to sleep, the feeling of nausea again swept over me--this time so strongly it was keeping me from sleep.  My mind started spinning with reasons why I might be feeling this way, and then I realized I hadn't felt my babies move at all during this middle-of-the-night wake time.  This realization brought to my mind a whole new realm of speculations, and I then began worrying about my babies.

As an automatic response to my worries, I prayed rather unexpectantly, "God, are both my babies okay?"  I was caught totally off guard when instantly one baby started a series of very active movements followed immediately by the other baby doing the same.  I knew without a doubt not only that both my babies were indeed okay but also that God had responded to my simple prayer as quickly as if we were conversing face-to-face.

Even still as I reflect on this I am utterly amazed--maybe even a little surprised--by the nearness of God.  What exactly was I expecting when I threw up that little prayer?  Nothing, I guess.  But God, because He hears my prayers and because He cares for me, answered me plainly as automatically as I had inquired of Him.

Praise God that He can use something as unlikely as sleep-preventing nausea to reveal Himself to His children.  And praise the Lord that He is near to all who call upon Him in truth (Psalm 145:18).

Monday, March 23, 2009

03/20/09 OB Appointment

I can hardly believe I'm already 27 weeks through this pregnancy.  Friday was the first of my two-week-interval appointments.  Reaching that point always makes it feel like the end is drawing near, although I know I wouldn't be going so often already if it weren't for the fact that I'm having twins.  Still, there is something kind of fun and exciting about "getting" to go to the doctor more often.  I guess it contributes to the building anticipation of the imminent birth(s)!

The appointment went well and was pretty standard.  I've gained two pounds in the past two weeks (putting me at 25 pounds total), and my blood pressure was good as usual.  My 27-weeks pregnant uterus is now measuring 33 cm, and that drew a "You're not doing too bad!" from the doctor.  The babies' heart rates were 150 and 142, and the doctor agreed with my suspicion that Baby B has quite possibly joined Baby A in the head-down position.  (Unfortunately, we couldn't confirm this since the ultrasound machine was down; so I guess we'll find out for sure in a couple weeks when I have my next big ultrasound at the perinatologist's office.)  After the doctor had felt my abdomen and had said that it seemed like both babies might be head down, he went on to say, "That would be great if they are.  Then we could just let you go vaginally."  As he said that, he turned away and began walking back towards the desk where my chart lay.  My eyes met Travis' as we silently flashed huge smiles at each other.  About then the doctor looked down at my chart and said with eyes still cast downward, "Oh... but you had that c-section.  That's right.... Yeah, we won't let you VBAC with twins...."  In one glance at my chart my hopes that a mind-change had occurred were dashed.  I wanted to say so many things in that moment, but I chose instead to say nothing as the doctor and I continued to avoid eye contact with each other.  I sat quietly with a smile in my heart--and maybe even a hint of one on my lips--knowing only that my trust and hope is in the Lord and in His plans.

I also learned during my appointment that beginning at 32 weeks, I will be sent to the hospital before or after (I'm not sure which) each OB appointment to have the babies' heart rates monitored for 20-30 minutes.  To be honest, my feelings on this are a bit mixed.  I guess I'm thankful that a close eye will be kept on my babies so that action can be taken should a problem arise; but I pray that no misindications or faulty readings would result in any unnecessary or overzealous interventions.

Check back in two weeks for results from my 29-week OB appointment and ultrasound!  (And pray for me, if you think of it.  I had no choice but to schedule with the doctor who seemed upon our first meeting to be quite lacking in bedside manner....)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Preparing MySELF

I mentioned in my last post that the fiercest stage of my nesting has come to an end; but the urge to prepare for my babies is still strong as ever--it has just taken on a little different form.  Instead of preparing my "nest," I guess I've moved on to preparing myself.

Within the past couple weeks I have purchased and begun reading Program Your Baby's Health by Barbara Luke (a book on nutrition that was recommended to me months ago by a knowledgeable midwife); I have checked out from the library Robert Bradley's Husband-Coached Childbirth (and am taking mental notes for my husband who truly doesn't have the time to read it with me); I have borrowed three additional baby name books in the continued quest to find the (second) right first name; I have watched Ricki Lake's documentary The Business of Being Born; and I am now looking into utilizing chiropractic care--more specifically, the Webster Technique, a specific chiropractic analysis and adjustment which allows babies to get into the best possible position for birth--to prepare myself for the birth of my babies.

In spite of all my preparation, I know that the circumstances surrounding the birth of a baby--and maybe even more so of twins--can be so uncertain; and the best of plans can be foiled in an instant (as in the case of my first childbirth).  But as I have prayed--and as so many of you have prayed with me and for me (Thank you, dear friends.  For your prayers and support I am eternally grateful.)--I have felt only more confirmation in my desire for a VBAC.  I continue to learn of more and more people, some of whom I don't even know, whom the Lord has raised up to pray for my situation; and I know that God is hearing these prayers.  Not only has all of my research confirmed the legitimacy of my desire to VBAC, so has all of my communication with God.  He has built me up with an ever stronger faith to truly believe that He can do all things and that His plans will prevail no matter how seemingly impossible the circumstances.

A few weeks ago I was doing a little personal study on prayer and read the following excerpt on "Praying According to God's Will" from Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology.
But how do we know what God's will is when we pray?  If the matter we are praying about is covered in a passage of Scripture in which God gives us a command or a direct declaration of his will, then the answer to this question is easy:  His will is that his Word be obeyed and that his commands be kept.... However, there are many other situations in life where we do not know what God's will is.  We may not be sure, because no promise or command of Scripture applies, whether it is God's will that we get the job we have applied for, or win an athletic contest in which we are participating... or be chosen to hold office in the church, and so on.  In all of these cases, we should bring to bear as much of Scripture as we understand, perhaps to give us some general principles within which our prayer can be made.  But beyond this, we often must admit that we simply do not know what God's will is.  In such cases, we should ask him for deeper understanding and then pray for what seems best to us, giving reasons to the Lord why, in our present understanding of the situation, what we are praying for seems to be best.  But it is always right to add, either explicitly or at least in the attitude of the heart, "Nevertheless, if I am wrong in asking this, and if this is not pleasing to you, then do as seems best in your sight," or, more simply, "If it is your will."  Sometimes God will grant what we have asked.  Sometimes he will give us deeper understanding or change our hearts so that we are led to ask something differently.  Sometimes he will not grant our request at all but will simply indicate to us that we must submit to his will (see 2 Cor. 12:9-10).... Even when a command or promise of Scripture applies, there may be nuances of application that we do not at first fully understand.  Therefore it is important in our prayer that we not only talk to God but also listen to him.  We should frequently bring a request to God and then wait silently before him.  In those times of waiting on the Lord (Pss. 27:14; 38:15; 130:5-6), God may change the desires of our heart, give us additional insight into the situation we are praying about, grant us additional insight into his Word, bring a passage of Scripture to mind that would enable us to pray more effectively, impart a sense of assurance of what his will is, or greatly increase our faith so that we are able to pray with much more confidence. (Wayne Grudem, "Prayer," Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Zondervan, 1994), pp. 383-384.)
When I read this, especially the last sentence of what is here quoted, my eyes filled with tears and my heart brimmed with joy and thankfulness as I realized that of the things listed, God, in regards to my prayers for a VBAC, has done all but change the desire of my heart--unless an increase in desire can be counted as "change."  He has given us additional insight into the issue of VBACing twins vs. elective repeat cesarean.  He has granted me additional insight into His Word, showing me through the example of the Israelites in the Old Testament that He is not bound by our circumstances.  He has brought passages of Scripture to mind that have enabled me to pray more effectively.  He has greatly increased my faith so that I am able to pray with much confidence.  And in doing all of these things, He has imparted to me a sense of assurance of what His will is.

Perhaps it is because of this that I have felt the urge of late to prepare myself for the natural childbirth that I so desire.  As I move forward in these preparations, I do so in a spirit of humility and submission before the Lord my God who is able to do all things and to whom I continue to pray, "Nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done."

Monday, March 16, 2009

Getting Practical: The Toy Problem

Okay, so the fiercest stage of nesting is over for me.  My pursuit of any ambitious projects went by the wayside several weeks ago when my (very truncated) second trimester burst of energy suddenly dissipated.  However, there is still this issue before me of creating and utilizing available space to comfortably accommodate the two little people on the way and all the stuff that will come along with them.

A little over a month ago I realized that the already crowded feeling in our house (particularly our bedrooms) was being created not by the size of the rooms but by the amount of stuff in them.  (Profound, huh?!) :-)  I took on "Project: Get Practical!" with the determination to minimize the kids' stuff.  I did pretty good on the clothing portion on the project, successfully consolidating two dressers full of clothing into one and sorting out a heaping laundry basket full of clothing to dispose of.  When it came to the toys, however, I backed out on the idea of minimizing and instead resorted to reorganizing.

I've been pretty happy with the toy reorganization until about a week ago when I finally got tired of looking at Abel and Amariah's still over-crowded-with-toys bedroom.  So this morning I tackled the dreaded toy task, packing up (would you believe it?!) two 21-gallon tubs full of toys to put in storage for awhile.  (No, I still don't have enough motivation to permanently eliminate toys; but I'm going to try the seemingly popular idea of rotating them in and out of storage to sort of keep things fresh while at the same time keeping the "active" toy stash to a minimum.)  I was a little worried that Abel and Amariah would be a hindrance to the task; but I was pleasantly surprised when, after simply explaining that I was going to pack up some of the toys for a while, they each calmly picked a couple things they wanted left out and didn't say another word about it.

I wish I could officially check "Project: Get Practical!" off my list, but I'm afraid the accumulation of stuff will be an ongoing problem that will have to be continually re-addressed.  For now, at least I feel like the "making room for babies" phase of the project has been sufficiently completed....

Friday, March 13, 2009

Abel's Birth Day

Three years ago today my first baby was born into this world.  As we celebrate Abel's birthday, I can't help but recount the events leading up to his birth.

The March 7, 2006, due date had come and gone.  I had left work early on Friday, March 10th, still very pregnant and very uncomfortable.  I was scheduled for a non-stress test on Monday morning, March 13th, to make sure the overdue baby was still doing okay.  In case of anything concerning, we were to go to the appointment prepared to be admitted to the hospital for induction.  And if everything looked okay, we would be given until Wednesday night, March 15th, before being admitted for induction.

Sunday, March 12th, was a bit of an anxious day.  We went to church that morning and spent most of the remainder of the day at a large family gathering.  People kept telling me that I didn't look very good.  I just remember feeling really pregnant and really tired.  Once at home that night, my husband and I sat down to relax and started attempting some natural methods of labor induction.  We both strongly desired for labor to begin spontaneously before that March 15th deadline, but little did we know that it would happen that night.

Just after 11:30 p.m. Travis and I were in the bathroom getting ready for bed when suddenly my water broke.  I sat down on the toilet as fast as I could and told my husband from the other side of the shower curtain what had just happened.  He hurried out so that I could get in and began packing the car.  I had had no signs of labor prior to my water breaking; but while I was in the shower just minutes after it had, I began having contractions five minutes apart.

We left for the hospital about an hour later, and by the time we got there my contractions were consistently three minutes apart.  I was dilated to 1 1/2 cm, and by the time they could get me moved from the exam room to a birthing suite, I had progressed to 4 cm.

Labor continued to progress rather quickly.  The next time I remember being checked--just a couple hours later--I was dilated to 7 cm.  And it wasn't too much longer after that--around 5:30 a.m.--that I was told I could push.

I pushed through one contraction, and oh how good it felt.  I had made it through all of labor with no pain medication, and pushing relieved all the pain and pressure I had been enduring.

Then my doctor checked me.  "I think this baby is sunny-side up, and you still have a little lip of cervix on one side that I don't think I can stretch around the baby's head.  And with as strong as your contractions have been, I think this baby should have come down farther by now.  We can either go to a c-section right now, or you can stop pushing and labor for another hour to see if you make any progress."

If there was one thing I didn't want, it was a c-section.  I had only been laboring for six hours total, and though I had now had a taste of how good it felt to push, I agreed without a moment's hesitation to labor for another hour.

That extra hour passed quickly.  By the end of it, I was pretty much having one solid contraction, and my body was heaving with the urge to push.  But I was in the game mentally, and I was coping as I looked forward to finally getting back to the pushing stage.

But the news that came at 6:30 a.m. was not in the least what I was expecting to hear.  After checking me again, the doctor informed us that though I had finished dilating, the baby had not descended at all during that extra hour of labor.  He told us that the baby was still too high to use forceps or vacuum extraction, and he felt that proceeding with pushing could be potentially harmful to the baby.  His advice was that we go to a c-section.

I was devastated.  For nine months I had been praying for a natural, complication-free labor and delivery; and now at the end of all that hard work and determination, I was being told it was all for nothing.  My husband and I just looked at each other, both hoping the other would have the courage to make the right decision.  Minutes later, I whispered to my husband through pain and tears.  "Honey, I think we have to trust the doctor's wisdom."  In spite of my complete and utter disappointment, I remembered the many times we had asked God to cause the right doctor to be on call for this birth and to equip that doctor with much wisdom; and I knew that at that point all we could do was to trust that God had answered those prayers.

It was about 6:45 a.m. when we made our decision to go to a c-section.  Upon announcing that decision, I was told I would have to wait a while before being prepped for surgery.  The anesthesiologist had a couple mothers ahead of me, and since we were right at shift-change time, it would probably be at least 15 minutes before I could get my spinal.

I could not handle that answer.  All mental control was now gone, and the will to endure even another 15 minutes of solid contractions had vanished along with my hope of a natural childbirth.

I guess the Lord had mercy on me, because somehow I got moved ahead of those other mothers who were in line for the anesthesiologist and, once catheterized, was almost immediately wheeled into the operating room to be prepped.

My husband was sent somewhere to put scrubs on while I was forced to move from my birthing bed to the cold, hard operating table.  Somehow I had to find another ounce of mental control and self-will as I was instructed to sit on the edge of the table, pull my knees up to my chest, curl my back, and sit perfectly still for my spinal.

As soon as the spinal was administered, I was laid down flat on my back.  I remember the immediate feeling of all pain just melting away.  And then my dear husband appeared at my side.

The doctor proceeded with the surgery while Travis and I waited and listened.  At 7:42 a.m. came the words from the other side of the blue drape:  "It's a boy."  With joy in our hearts, we looked at each other and in exact unison repeated the words, "It's a boy!"  Soon we heard our baby's cry, and Travis was invited to come meet our son and to watch him get weighed, measured, etc.  Not too long later, my husband and new baby boy appeared at my head, and with arms still heavy and tied down, all I could do was look at him.

Shortly after that I fell into a drug-induced sleep, and I remember little of what happened before waking up five hours later to the sound of my crying baby.  Finally, five hours after his birth, I held and nursed my new baby boy for the first time.

As I recount the details of Abel's birth, I am reminded that God knew every detail of the story even before there was time.  His birth may not have turned out just as I had hoped and planned, but all that matters now is that God has given me a beautiful child whom I love and thank God for every day.

Happy birthday, Abel.  I love you more than I ever knew a mother could love.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Down Time

At 9:30 yesterday morning I got a call from our electric company informing me of a planned power outage which was to begin at 10:30 and last for a couple hours.  In 2009 style, I immediately felt like my world was coming to a halt, and I had only an hour to make preparations.  I quickly accomplished the things I absolutely had to do before losing our electricity and began brainstorming what tasks I could tackle during the two hours "down time."  I could catch up on my ironing!... No, that requires electricity.... Do I have any laundry to do?... Nope, and I guess I couldn't do that even if I did.... Maybe I could blog... or not.  It seemed that every little thing I decided I should do in the absence of electricity required electricity.  It's funny how this convenience is so a part of our lives that such absurd thoughts could even arise.  During past power outages I've been known to do things like flip on the bathroom light switch just before turning on the faucet to wash my hands. :-)

The power ended up going out at about 10:15.  By that time I had gotten the house warmed up to 73 in preparation for having no heat on a frigid, windy day.  With house quiet and nothing I could really do in my technology dependent state, I finally had a novel idea:  I could just spend time playing with my kids!  Why didn't I think of that to begin with?!  We played on the living room floor for about an hour (during which time the house had already cooled to 68 degrees), and then I loaded the kids up for a quick trip to McDonald's for a hot lunch.  Thankfully, Wednesdays in Ankeny are cheap Happy Meal day--I got two Happy Meals for $4.12!

On the way back home from McDonald's I got to thinking.  What would it have been like to live in simpler times?  "Simpler" times.  Then I realized that, really, it is all our modern "simplifications" that were making my morning without electricity seem so difficult!  Computers, washers and dryers, microwaves, running water, all make life more simple when we have them; but when we don't, life becomes difficult because we don't know how to deal without.

Our power came back on at 1:00, just when I was starting to feel pretty cold in our 66 degree house.  (Boy, do I sound spoiled and over-privileged, or what?!)  Perhaps instead of taking my "easy," comfortable life for granted I should be more thankful that God has chosen me to live in such a time as this.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Our First Family Vacation

A week ago Saturday Travis and the kids and I headed to Minneapolis for our first ever family vacation.  Originally it was to be just a three-day business trip for Travis, but knowing his company was providing him with more than adequate accommodations for the stay, we had decided that we would all go along for a little change of scenery.  When we decided to extend our stay by an extra day, suddenly a business trip/change of scenery turned family vacation!

I was indescribably excited during the days leading up to our departure.  I kept finding myself taking note of which toys the kids had been particularly enjoying and counting down the days until I could pack them up for the trip.  I was really looking forward to the undivided attention I would be able to give my kids when I didn't have laundry and cleaning and cooking to worry about.

All my packing for the trip was premeditated.  (Did I mention I was excited?!)  The last couple years when we've gone along on similar but shorter overnight business trips, we always seemed to have so many loose ends that made the loading and unloading of the car both hassling and embarrassing.  So this time I utilized three different storage tubs in addition to a cooler and our suitcases and completely eliminated all those annoying loose ends.  I was pretty proud of myself when both my husband and the bellhop were impressed by my work. :-)

We arrived at the Mall of America in Minneapolis around 2:00 on Saturday afternoon, and I think it was probably close to 3:00 by the time we were able to find a parking spot and actually make our way into the mall.  While we were there I did a little shopping (for maternity clothes, of course) with some Christmas money I had been saving, and my husband even surprised me with a little extra cash for my purchases.  We also bought some other fun things like a new game, smoothies from Orange Julius, pretzels, and souvenirs.  Travis picked out a cute new outfit for Amariah (which she held on to in woman-like excitement and let go of only when offered a smoothie), and Abel chose a pack of dinosaur toys which proved to be a source of great entertainment for the rest of the trip.

When we checked into our hotel that evening, I was completely awed by our accommodations.  As I entered our one-bedroom suite and gazed through the double doors at the plush king-sized bed, and then as my eyes wandered to the cute little kitchen and attractive living area, I thought to myself, I would be so mad if Travis hadn't brought us along!  Abel kept asking, "Mom, whose house is this?" and later informed me, "Mom, I want to buy this house!"

The kids slept together on the sofa bed, and that seemed to be the highlight of the trip for them.  Though they share a bedroom at home, they've never slept in the same bed; but boy, did they think that was fun!  The double doors to the master bedroom and the sliding, mirrored closet doors were also of great interest to the kids and served as the culprit in more than one finger-pinching episode.

Sunday night we met up with some friends of ours who live in Minneapolis and were encouraged by their godly fellowship.  Monday through Wednesday Travis had work and training to attend (which earned us these nights in our "house"), so these were the days my hope of spending more time with the kids was fulfilled.  In the mornings we went down to feast from the elaborate breakfast bar, and groceries I had brought along provided quick, easy, kid-friendly lunches (Hey, it was their vacation, too!). :-)

Overall, our little vacation/change of scenery proved to be a very refreshing experience for us as a family.  When I was growing up my family wasn't able to take vacations--and I never felt like I was missing out on anything.  But, as I light-heartedly told Travis on our way home, I think vacations are more of a necessity now that I'm an adult.  To which he responded, "Yeah, for a kid every day is a vacation!"  (Which makes Abel's statement from that last morning a little ironic:  "Mom, I don't want to leave vacation!")  Now I have to admit that, in classic Angela style, I failed to take any pictures during our trip.  But I think the memories of our first simple little family vacation will stick with us for years to come.

As for our next family vacation for which we'll be loading up a family of six... I think I better start premeditating my packing methods now! :-)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

03/06/09 OB Appointment

Twenty-five weeks and counting!  Friday was the day of my last OB appointment and ultrasound, and it turned out to be another day of affirmation and encouragement.

The morning started with my one-hour glucose tolerance test.  Judging from the way I felt during the hour I think I passed, although I won't know for sure until sometime this week.  I always somewhat dread the routine GTT, but really the worst part about it is not being allowed to drink water for an entire hour (oh, and then the part where they draw my blood.  I'm a little freaked out by needles....).

The doctor portion of my appointment turned out differently than I expected.  I was scheduled with a lady doctor whom I've never met (and who happens to have twins of her own) and was kind of excited for the chance to visit with her and to find out where she stands on the twin VBAC vs. repeat cesarean issue.  However, because she was running behind in her schedule, I ended up seeing the doctor whom we met with the day we found out we are having twins (one of the two in the practice who seems to be more supportive of my wish to VBAC).

I really enjoyed visiting with this doctor again.  Right away he brought up the topic of VBAC.  I was glad for the chance to discuss it further with him, as he seems to be a little more objective than some of the others.  He still seems to be of the opinion that my case is unique in that I've had a successful VBAC prior to this pregnancy, which I think in his mind increases the likelihood of another successful VBAC this time around.  Still, he stated the common opinion that a twin pregnancy puts more strain on a uterine scar, thereby increasing the chance of rupture.  He likened my scarred, pregnant-with-twins uterus to a big bottom in jeans with a weak seam:  Just as a big bottomed person doing squats all day long in a pair of jeans with a weak seam has an increased chance of splitting her jeans out, he said, so a bigger, more distended scarred uterus in labor for an extended period of time has an increased chance of rupturing.  I have to admit that I get a little bit skeptical when told things like this, because it seems to be in direct contradiction to the results of so many studies on VBACs which have shown similar success rates among women pregnant with singletons and women pregnant with twins.  But even in spite of the belief that a twin pregnancy increases the likelihood of uterine rupture, the doctor still conceded that he truly understands why I want a VBAC--especially since we don't have the desire to be "done" having children.

We also discussed my weight gain briefly.  I was somewhat shocked to learn that I gained ten pounds over the past four weeks but glad to know that it actually put my weight gain right on track with recommendations for twin pregnancy.  (From what I've learned, a good rule of thumb is 24 pounds by 24 weeks and 40 to 50 pounds total.)  At any rate, the doctor was pleased with my weight gain and basically told me to keep doing what I'm doing.

Next on the schedule was another 45-minute ultrasound.  Since a simple measurement of the uterus (which for me this time was 30 cm!) is not enough to monitor the growth of twins, we have an ultrasound every four weeks for this purpose.  The babies looked good.  Baby A's heart rate was 150 bpm, and she is weighing 1 lb. 5 oz.  Baby B's heart rate was 153 bpm, and she is weighing 1 lb. 7 oz.  They are still in a "T" position, although Baby B has flipped around so that her head is now where her feet were.

After our ultrasound we were privileged to meet with the perinatologist who consults with our OB practice for high risk pregnancies and who has been reading our ultrasounds.  She basically wanted to discuss with us the fact that Baby A has a two-vessel umbilical cord (one artery and one vein) instead of the normal three-vessel cord (two arteries and one vein).  Although this can often be an indication of a heart anomaly or kidney problem, scans have shown Baby A's heart to be healthy and complete and no kidney problems are apparent at this point.  (Praise God that He is hearing our prayers for the perfect and complete development of every organ!)  We also learned that babies with a two-vessel cord are often smaller at birth, but with the right nutrition, the perinatologist said, it is definitely possible for Baby A's weight to keep right up with Baby B's.

The perinatologist also opened up the topic of VBAC with me, as she was impressively up to speed with my medical records.  When she learned of my desire to VBAC, she poured forth encouraging words along the lines of "I believe you can do it!  In all my years of practicing medicine, I have seen so many woman do it.  And if you have the vision for VBAC in your heart and a supportive person by your side, you can do it!"  I was so encouraged by her positive words which filled me with even more joy and confidence than what I had before.  Those words as well as her express admission that so many doctors want what is best for them (and not necessarily what is best for the mother and baby) were like another source of affirmation to me that my desire for a VBAC is legitimate and realizable.  I praise God for using people like her to speak to me, and I pray that He will allow me to hear His voice ever so clearly in the coming weeks in regards to this matter.

I'm sure there is much more to say, but this post is getting pretty long.  Just know that I am filled with inexpressible joy and excitement as I watch the development of my babies and await their coming into this world.  May God's will be done, and may He be glorified in all of this!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Getting to Know You

My blogging friend Lynnette Kraft (author of one of my favorite blogs, Dancing Barefoot on Weathered Ground) has had a great idea!  She is hosting a blogging event called "Getting to Know You" through which all we blog writers and/or readers can do a little "blog networking."  Stop by Lynnette's blog by clicking on the button below to check out the rules and to join in this "Getting to Know You" event!  By doing so you will get some new visitors to stop by your own blog, and you might just find other great blogs in the process, too!

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