MicroblogMondays: Labor and Delivery Tour and Nonstress Test

Last weekend, Bob left Annie’s town early and I stayed behind one more day to attend the first nonstress test with Annie.  Since I’d be in town, I scheduled a tour at the birth center where the twins will be born.  The nonstress test was scheduled for 11am.  I was going to ask for a tour afterwards.  The OB nurse manager there could only do it earlier, so we scheduled for 10am.  Good thing we did, because the one-hour time window for the nonstress test was a lie.

Let me talk about the tour at labor and delivery first.  The birth center was expanded about a year ago and looked fabulous.  It’s located on the first floor of the back side of the hospital.  While waiting for the nurse to meet us, Annie commented on the security of having the birth center on the first floor, since she had only been to labor and delivery on second or third floor.  I am quite sure that the place is very secured.  You cannot go in and out of the the unit unless you get buzzed in by a staff member.  There are secured doors everywhere that you can’t access to unless you’re being let in.  The OB nurse manager showed us around, and said that having it on the first floor was the only way to have all the space it needed.  Instead of sharing an operation room with the rest of the hospital like it used to be, here they have two operating rooms just for this birth center.  They can staff the OR themselves whenever they need to.  The OR’s back door opens to a hallway that connects to the neonatal intensive care unit, so any babies that need to go in there don’t have to travel far.  The place is huge and seems to be never-ending.

We discussed about the logistics and details of the birth.  Annie has been scheduled for a Cesarean-section on September 15th, which is 38 weeks 2 days.  The babies may come any time between now and then.  But if it is not an emergency C-section, it is very likely that Bob and I as well as Annie’s husband can all be in the OR.  Even the birth photographer that we booked may be able to be present.  Our photographer said she has done it twice in this hospital so I hope that it will happen for us as well.  The nurse manager said that it is not a guarantee, but they often try to accommodate the parents as much as possible.  So it is highly likely that we’ll be able to fit everyone in there.  My friend who used a surrogate there for her twins did it.  So I am hopeful.

After the birth, we’ll have immediate skin-to-skin, as this hospital is called a “baby friendly” hospital.  The babies will be placed on my chest and Bob’s chest if they are both healthy and don’t require additional medical attention.  This hospital also encourages nursing.  For the second time, the OB nurse manager asked me if I’d be doing “re-lactation”, as she already asked me on the phone a few weeks ago.  It’s interesting to use this term because it denotes a prior experience with lactation, which I didn’t have.  I told her that we will try to have Annie hand-express colostrum during her hospital stay, but we will start the babies on formula immediately.  The nurse manager said that the birth center provides donor breast milk if we desire, and all babies in the NICU are fed donor breast milk.  But she understands that this is an expensive endeavor when we return home so she fully supports us whatever decision that we make.  A lactation consultant is available to help with whatever we need 16 hours a day at the hospital.

Bob and I are going to be given a hospital room during our babies’ stay.  The babies will be in the room with us the whole time barring any need for the NICU.  Annie will be recovering in a room next door.  Typically she’ll be released from the hospital in 48 hours.  The babies could also be discharged in 48 hours if they both do well with everything.  I asked if I have to write down all the details for the hospital, but the nurse manager said that there is no need as they will take good care of us.

The visit there was very positive, and now I know exactly where to go and what to expect.  Things may not go exactly according to plan, but it is so good to have some idea of what may happen.  I am so glad that we made this special trip to Annie’s town so the tour could happen.

Okay so what about the nonstress test?  We thought that it was going to be a relaxing time for Annie, but no… it was stressful!  Annie lay down on one of those recliners and got hooked up right away.  Baby A’s heartbeat was easy to find, but Baby B was nowhere to be found.  To say that I was nervous about it was an understatement.  I know that he/she is deeper inside so it will be hard to find him/her, but boy, I was anxious about anything being wrong with him/her.  It took 10 minutes and a second nurse to come in and finally find Baby B.  In the meantime, Annie continued to push that button whenever she felt them move, so she couldn’t just relax.  Those two heartbeat monitors were strapped on her and the nurses left.  After about 10 minutes, both of the babies went offline probably due to movements.  So Annie had to ring a bell for the nurses to return.  Baby A was again easy to find, but Baby B was moving around.  Dr. OB came in to check and said that Baby A was showing us what they wanted, which was for the heart rate to go up and down 15 beats three times.  But Baby B was having a more stable heart rate and had one spike at that point.  So Dr. OB ordered the nurse to use a buzzer to hopefully wake up Baby B.  After that, it was still hard to find Baby B.  Dr. OB eventually pulled in a bedside ultrasound to find the exact location of Baby B’s heart.  At least I got to see Baby B on the ultrasound!  This kiddo has been hiding his/her face from the machine for many weeks now.  The funny thing was, even though they could find the exact location of the heart, the monitor did not always pick it up at that one location.  After Dr. OB left, two nurses kneeled next to Annie, one holding the monitor for A and the other one for B.  I was told to use the buzzer one more time on Annie’s belly to wake up B.  Once that was done, Baby A was probably angry that we woke him/her up and started to react to the buzzer with a heart rate acceleration.  Baby B’s heart rate also started to go up, but took a very very long time for it to come back down to baseline.  Annie and the nurses were joking that I will have a baby who will stay angry for a very long time.  We needed Baby B’s heart rate to go up one more time, so all of us were cheering him/her on by saying “Come on baby!  You can do it!”  Two extra nurses came in to study the print out, and said that we just needed Baby B to perform one more spike.  The nurse who was holding Baby B’s monitor saw it on the screen that the heart rate did spike one more time.  We were so relieved!  It took one surrogate, one intended mom, four nurses, and one OB to finish this very stressful nonstress test.  The whole thing took one hour 45 minutes.

And this is only the beginning.  Annie returned last Thursday for a second nonstress test.  Later on she told us that both babies were doing well, and the test took “only” one hour 45 minutes, again!  I sure hope that it will get easier for Annie because she’ll have to do it twice a week until the day the babies come to this world.  She is such a rock star.  We feel very blessed to have her on our team.

We have at most four weeks four days to go.  Wow…

MicroblogMondays: Movements

I am currently in Annie’s town.  Bob and I came to spend time with her and her family, and we took professional photos yesterday.  It has been such a lovely visit.  Annie has been doing very well, and we had a great time at the photo shoot.  I can’t wait to see how the photos turn out.  Today I will meet with the nurse practice manager at the hospital where Annie will give birth, and I will also attend Annie’s first non stress test today.  It has been a very eventful and enjoyable weekend.

One of the reasons we really wanted to make a trip here so close to delivery date was for the babies’ movements.  Ever since Annie started to feel them, I had wanted to come and see/feel them move as well.  I was a bit sad that I couldn’t do that because we weren’t planning on coming.  Well, everything fell into place and here I am now.  It has been so magical these past few days.  I sat next to Annie multiple times a day and had my hands on her baby bump.  She would tell me where to put my hands and all of a sudden I would feel a shake or a wave.  Sometimes it would take many many minutes before the babies moved again.  Now I can tell which movement is from which baby.  Baby A is currently in the anterior portion and lower on the right bottom of the belly.  Baby B is across behind Baby A.  So all the movements that are more obvious are from Baby A, and all the more subtle movements from the top portion of the belly are from Baby B.  In the afternoon Baby A was moving quite a lot.  After dinner and a walk, Baby A was super quiet, and Baby B started turning and moving like crazy.  The next morning Annie told us that Baby A woke up at 5am and just moved around and woke Annie up.  It looks like we have one early bird and one nigh owl.  It has been quite amazing to see the movements.  At church on Sunday, Annie tapped me on my shoulder and pointed at her belly.  We could see parts of her bump moving and bulging out quite a few times.  Baby B must have been really excited about the pastor’s sermon.  🙂

I feel very grateful that things have been going so well, and we finally got to see and feel the babies’ movements.  This great sense of gratitude is also mixed in with a bit of sadness, a bit of jealousy, and a bit of surreality.  The babies are doing so well, and being able to feel their movements just highlights to me how alive and well they are.  A year ago we wouldn’t have imagined being here today, feeling their movements, and taking maternity photos.  At the same time, I look at my own body and my not-so-flat tummy that isn’t growing any life inside of it, for a moment, I was overcome with a sense of loss.  This journey has been so complicated and there are so many complex emotions to sort through.  I am glad that I feel positive, joyful, excited, and full of anticipation most of the time.  But boy, when these sad feelings hit, there is no hiding.  Although I have felt some sadness, I wouldn’t trade these moments for anything else, because this is God’s path for us, and these are the babies that He has entrusted with us.  Without our struggles and my inability to carry, these particular babies wouldn’t be the ones that we will meet in the very near future. 

God works in amazing ways, and these babies are a testament to that.

Update: 32 Weeks

32 weeks today!

We had our growth scan on Monday at 31 weeks 5 days.  I was still a tiny bit nervous like usual.  Maybe I won’t be able to breathe more easily until the day our twins are safely in our arms.  Every time there is a scan, I feel mostly confident that things will be fine, but there is still a small part of me that is anxious.  Bob is so funny.  He dons his Batman T-shirt and his red underwear for good luck on every single scan day.

This time I didn’t get to watch the ultrasound.  Annie went by herself and tried to video-conference me, but the connection was so slow that I could barely see anything.  We chatted on the phone instead.  She sporadically reported to me the babies’ stats.  While we were waiting for the technician to check on the babies, we chatted about her boys and her life.  She was telling me that she started feeling sad because in weeks time the babies will be born. Although this pregnancy has been a lot harder for her than her previous singleton pregnancies, she has enjoyed every single minute of it.  She said she would really miss carrying the babies and feeling them move.  I was quite touched by what she said.  I know that the babies are well loved, and it is so important for them to be loved by their carrier as well.  She also told me that her bump is now about two inches away from the steering wheel.  We will probably have to figure out a way to get her to the nonstress test two times a week in the future if her bump is too big for driving.

Back to the twins.  Here are the numbers.  Baby A’s heart rate was 141.  He/She was 4 lbs 3 oz measuring at 32 weeks 1 day.  Baby B had a heart rate of 147 and was 4 lbs 4 oz, which made him/her 32 weeks 2 days.  Annie’s cervix was measuring at 5.1cm.  The babies’ heads were together again.  This time they were like an upside down L.  Baby A’s head was on Annie’s right side and lying across.  Baby B’s head was next to Baby A’s head with his/her feet down.  I find it so cute that every time there is a scan, the babies’ heads are always together.  It seems like they just attract each other.  Apparently since Baby B is in the posterior position of the placenta, it has been very hard to get a good profile photo of him/her.  We again couldn’t get one this time.  I don’t know what is up with that kiddo… he/she is hiding all the time!  I was planning on using their ultrasound photos for the maternity photos this Sunday.  It looks like I’ll have to use Baby A’s profile and Baby B’s alien looking photo.

I didn’t even ask to speak with Dr. OB because there was really nothing for me to ask about.  About 30 minutes later, Annie sent me a text saying that the visit with Dr. OB went well and everything was good with her and the babies.  This weekend Bob and I are going to fly there to spend some time with Annie and her husband.  Maternity photos will be on Sunday.  Bob is going to come home on Sunday.  I will stay for another day to go check out Labor and Delivery at the hospital as well as to attend Annie’s first non-stress test.  She asked Dr. OB if I could sneak a peek at the babies next Monday at the appointment.  He told her that he would definitely look at the babies (and let me look at them) if he is around on Monday.

I joke that Bob now has to figure out a way to keep his Batman T-shirt and red underwear clean because he’ll have to wear them twice a week from next week on for all the nonstress tests.