Thursday, June 14, 2012

Our twin pregnancy journal: Third Trimester, Months 8 & 9

Month 8:
I started off the month still horizontal, trying as hard as I could to stay relaxed and keep our babies healthy and growing. Every time I went to the doctor, I was re-evaluated and told whether or not I'd need to have steroids for the babies' lung development. The steroid shots, I was told, had to be administered by 34 weeks, but were best given in the week before delivery. So each week, the doctor tried to determine if I was likely to give birth over the next 7 days. Finally, right around 34 weeks, my doctor and the maternal-fetal medicine specialist decided it was time for the injections. The first one was   very uncomfortable. For the rest of the evening, my leg felt as though it was running an intense stair workout, all by itself! In hindsight, I think the injection must have gone into a muscle group. Luckily, the second injection was much more comfortable, the only side effect being that I was very thirsty the rest of the weekend. I think I drank almost 2 gallons of water and Gatorade a day! My body seemed to be making it clear that this foreign substance was entirely unwelcome.

The following appointment included a growth scan, a detailed ultrasound to check the babies' progress and estimate their size. They were estimated to be 5 lbs, 5 oz and 5 lbs, 8 oz, which is a great size for 34 weeks! Everything else looked great as well, and the doctor seemed very happy. With the good ultrasound results and the fact that I'd had the steroid injections, she even said I could get up and do more - go out and have coffee if I'd like, or go out to dinner with Dan. We were thrilled, since it had been a long time since we'd been out anywhere other than the doctor together, and took advantage of my new freedom a few times over the next week. Since it was still hard for me to walk for a long time, I got to ride in scooter carts when we went to the store. It was fun the first few times, but the novelty quickly wore off!

One of my first outings - after Mass, 35 weeks pregnant

Month 9:
Thus began the waiting. We continued to see the doctor weekly, although I no longer needed to have an ultrasound every time. Each visit, the doctor would say that I probably would be having the babies soon. At 36 weeks, we had another growth scan, and this time the twins' weights were estimated at 7 lbs, 2 oz (Emily) and 6 lbs, 13 oz (Erin). Although those would be great weights for single babies and put the twins in a very healthy position for birth, they still didn't seem interested in entering the outside world. After all the weeks spent patiently resting in bed or on the couch, it seemed very strange to be waiting to go into labor!

In the nursery, 35-36 weeks pregnant

I was even more surprised to hear talk of being induced when I went in for my normal weekly appointment at 36.5 weeks. My doctor was out of the office, so I saw one of her colleagues. She checked to see if I was dilated, said I was at 2 cm, and then said it was likely I would have the babies very soon, within the next week or 10 days. She then asked if we planned on a C-section or vaginal delivery. I said I had planned on a vaginal delivery since both of the girls presented head down, but didn't want too much intervention. I added that since every intervention, as I understood it, would increase my likelihood of needing a C-section, I could see the logic in simply having one if that was what I was likely to need. She explained that there was still a significant amount of risk in having a C-section, especially since we are young and could have more children, and that this was something to consider. She finished by saying that most likely I would go into labor soon on my own, but once I reached 38 weeks I would either be induced or have a C-section because of the risk to the babies.

My 37 week checkup went much the same, except that I saw my doctor and she monitored the babies' heartbeats and my contractions. I'd been in to Labor and Delivery the night before, but sent home because I wasn't really making any progress and wasn't very far dilated. She checked me again to see if she could "get things started", said I'd made progress since the night before, and scheduled me for an appointment two days later, when she'd be on call and I could be admitted if I'd continued to progress.

Up until 36 weeks, I'd felt fairly comfortable. Although my belly was huge, and I had between 13 and 15 pounds of babies inside at any given time, I didn't feel too much other than being tired and hot. At 36 weeks, swelling kicked in. My right leg would daily swell to four times the size of my left. In a panic, I went to the doctor the first day this happened, but was reassured it was completely normal. After I knew it was normal, I found it funny! We took another belly picture just prior to 37 weeks, since it had been a while since I'd looked at myself from the side. I was amazed to see how far my belly stuck out - it explained the stares we got when I went somewhere (other than the doctor) with Dan!

Me, 36-37 weeks pregnant