Thursday, March 31, 2011

Music To My Ears

I'm so excited to write this post.  I wanted to sit down, scan in the ultrasound photos, and knock it out last night.  However, once midnight rolled around, I lost all stamina.  We were just flat out exhausted from trying to get me ready to head out to Chicago this morning.  So, today, I'm writing this post from the car.

(Currently, we're driving past Frederick, MD)

Yesterday, Meg and I had our first appointment with our new high-risk OB.  Our doctor, Dr. Gallagher, is awesome!  In fact, everyone at Greater Washington Maternal-Fetal Medicine was extremely friendly.  His office focuses on births for women with triplets and greater. 

We went into that appointment thinking that he was going to continue with the push for "Selective Reduction," though we were pleasantly surprised.  For those unfamiliar with the term, Selective Reduction is exaclty what it sounds like.  I'm already planning an entirely separate post for this topic at a later date. 

As we were sitting there in the waiting room, I felt a strange sense of accomplishment as I looked around at all of the other pregnant women with their husbands.  It felt as if we had graduated from infertility school into the ranks of "expecting."  After spending so much time in the waiting room with other couples at SGFC, knowing exactly why everyone was there, it was kind of refreshing to look at all of the other moms-to-be and wondering how many babies they were having.

(I think Baby B just kicked Meg's bladder, so we're making a pit-stop in Breezewood, PA)

Of course, we've been running around like headless chickens the past couple of weeks, so we forgot to download and fill out our first-time patient paperwork ahead of time.  This added a slight delay to us getting called back to see the sonographer.  You have to understand that I get REALLY excited before each visit to the doctor.  Partially, because I'm excited to see our babies on the screen and partially, because I feel relieved every time the doctor confirms that our babies are growing and that their hearts are still beating fast.

(I just have to let you know that I keep getting distracted because Meg is trying to eat a sandwich.  She's about 50/50 with making it into her mouth, while the other half bounces off of her jacket and back down to the sandwich wrapper)

Here's the best part.  They finally call us to the back and take us straight in to get our first sonogram at their office.  This was Meg's first on-the-belly sonogram, so she got to experience the cold, wet jelly, as well as its after-effects from not folding her elastic pants down far enough.  Rookie mistake.  Anyway, the sonographer is working her way around Meg's belly and the picture is broadcast on a larger screen in front of us so we can see what they're seeing.  Honestly, with two gestational sacks, Meg's ultrasound looks like she swallowed one of the ghosts from Mrs. Pacman. (see the group shot, below)

First group shot of the DeBauche Trio (aka. The Ghost)

What happened next, I will never forget.  Meg and I were looking at each other and talking about the babies and, suddenly, in surround-sound, we hear "tha-thump, tha-thump, tha-thump" going along at a pace of about 170 beats per minute.  It was the most awesome, amazing, heart-wrenching sound I've ever heard.  I remember hearing from other people that hearing their baby's heartbeat for the first time was incredible and emotional.  Now, I'm not going to say that I was weeping, because guys don't weep, but there were definitely little salt streams running down my cheeks as the sonographer moved from baby to baby so we could hear each DeBauche triplet heartbeat.  It's great to have so many pictures to save as memories, but I would have given anything if there would've been a way to bottle up the entire experience of holding Meg's hand, while listening to our babies' heartbeats, and feeling truly connected to these kids in a way we hadn't before, and saving it for eternity.

After we finished up with the sonograms, we spent a lot of time speaking with Dr. Gallagher about what we can expect with the pregnancy.  He went through their typical list of questions, inquiring about both of our family histories as they pertain to general health issues, as well as any chromosomal abnormalities/defects.  Then we talked about the primary risk of carrying triplets for Meg, which will be delivering the babies too early.  Now, I'm not saying that Meg has any more risk than anyone else, it's just the area that they'll be monitoring the most to make sure that the babies aren't putting to much weight/pressure on her cervix, which could cause an early delivery.  Besides that, Meg's in great health and the doctor didn't seem to have any concerns, outside of the fact that we're still early in the pregnancy and a lot could still happen over the next several weeks.  But, based on the fact that all three babies are growing at nearly the same rate and all FHRs are around 170 bpm, he was very confident that barring anything completely unexpected, that we'll be delivering all three babies!  Week 28 seems to be the low end of the target to reach, as that's the point at which the NICUs can really help our babies grow and be healthy if they deliver early.  What we're really targeting is 34-35 weeks.  That's the point at which Meg's body is going to say, "I've done all I can do for now.  Get these babies outta here!"

The next step for us is something called a CVS, which I'll explain in a later post after I learn more.  Also, because there's not a lot to really monitor until she's about 12 weeks pregnant, we don't need to go back to the doctor for a while.  When we do, our doctor has a really cool setup where I'll be able to join in during the sonogram through my computer so that I can participate remotely.  Isn't technology amazing?  Also, as part of the CVS, we'll be able to definitively determine the sex of all three babies instead of having to wait until around week 18.  I'm already thinking of titles for my post that day!

Well, we're just about to leave the state of PA, so I should probably wrap this up for today.  Plus, Meg's going to want me to drive pretty soon.  I'll leave you with some more first pictures of the DeBauche babies.

Also, through a suggestion in the comments section, I've added a pregnancy ticker at the bottom of the blog (thanks A!)

Babies A & B are the identical twins.  Right now, Baby A seems to be hogging mom's resources a little more as it's a little bit larger than Baby B.

Here's Baby A

Here's Baby B

Babies A and B are sitting closest to Meg's cervix, so if she miraculously delivers naturally, these two will come out first.

Baby C has the view at the top and will be resting on top of the twins.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Love Affair with Elastic Pants

I've seen my wife get excited over a lot of things, but what I saw tonight was a first.  As more time goes by in a relationship, the number of "firsts" gets smaller and smaller.  While it makes complete sense if you think about it, I never would have imagined seeing a woman get so crazily excited over stretchy pants.  I still remember when she was taking me to the Bar in an attempt to get me to buy more "fashionable" (aka, less baggy) jeans when we first started dating, while she enjoyed sliding into the skinniest, tightest pair she could find. 

Now, not so much.  Now, comfort rules.  Now, her greatest find was a pair of yoga/dress pants (yes, they do make a pair that does both jobs) with an elastic belly that she could wear, equally well, to work or to bed.  She found a few things she liked.  Actually, she found a lot that she liked. 

You have to love my wife.  She must be the cutest pregnant woman I've ever seen.  She constantly deals with this inner guilt.  It's kind of amusing when we go shopping.  She gets super excited when she finds all these great clothes, then IMMEDIATELY starts to feel bad about how much of a bill she's racking up, then she remembers how comfortable these clothes are and how good they look, then she remembers how much she just bought online the week before.  It's amusing watching this internal battle unfold.  All I can say is, VERY CUTE.

Tonight's shopping expedition was brought on by the fact that she didn't have any pants that fit comfortably, that also didn't have a date to be hemmed at the tailor.  I have to say that I was quite surprised at the lack of maternity options at Pentag.on City Mall.  Basically, there was A Pea I.n The Pod and Motherho.od Maternity.  It's not like this area is lacking pregnant women.  I see them everywhere, I mean everywhere!  In fact, women are getting pregnant all of the time.  It seems as though your only options as a pregnant woman are to a.) be content with the reasonable prices and selection at Motherho.od Maternity, b.) take your chances with with fit and comfort from an online maternity store, or c.) pay a liver and one of your kidneys (no, both of them) to go shopping at A Pea I.n The Pod.  Seriously, that store is expensive.  Especially, for clothes that you're pretty much only going to wear for one season.  I guess there's a client base that they're targeting, otherwise they wouldn't be in business, but with triplets on the way, I can guarantee you that it's not us!

After several hours of hunting around the mall and three bags full of clothes to show off our hard work, we returned home with, what I hope will be, many months of comfort.  Meghan did say that she would reassess her clothes situation, now that she has more options, and go through her newly purchased pile of clothes with the stuff she bought from Ol.d Navy online and, potentially, pare down a little.  I love my wife, but I'll believe it when I see it.  Somehow, I just know that there will be a reason that all will find a home in our closet.  Honestly, it's all right.  To see her uncomfortable in her clothes and in her skin as she continues to grow, just kills me.  She's giving me the greatest and most important gift in the world, so what's a few extra outfits in the end?  The answer--nothing.

On a side note, we did have our final visit at SGFC today before heading off to meet with our new OB.  I know I promised pictures of the babies, but I think we'll get more info and, hopefully, better pictures from our trip to the OB, so I'll save it for tomorrow's post.  I'll tell you though that all three babies are doing great, which has me really excited, as each time the doctor tells us that things are "looking good," I feel just a little more relieved, less stressed, and less worried.

For now, I'll leave you with some pics from our shopping adventure.

So, while Meg was in one of the dressing rooms, across the store in an empty dressing room, I saw what looked to be a black hat or a helmet.  For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why they would have this ugly hat hanging in the dressing room.  Meg popped out from behind the curtain and surprised me with this big belly.  Apparently, the "ugly hat" was actually a baby simulator pad so you can see what your clothes will fit like as you grow larger.  Leave it to a guy to honestly think it could've been a hat.  Come on Jeremy, you're smarter than that.

I think the words she uttered when I captured this shot went something like, "Seriously, who's butt is this and what did you do with mine?"

"Yeah, I still got it!"

Have you ever seen someone so excited about elastic pants?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Babies on the Brain

I have to admit, I didn't think I'd have it this bad.  We're only two weeks into finding out that we're having triplets and I can't turn my brain off from thinking about babies ALL OF THE TIME.  I see them everywhere, but it's probably because they are everywhere and I never really noticed until now.  Kind of like when you buy a new car and you start seeing it everywhere on the road.

Also, Meghan probably doesn't realize this yet, but I can't stop thinking about her either.  I don't want to go overboard with it, but I often find myself worried about whether she's eating enough, or getting enough fluids, or if she put her seat belt on when she got in the car, or if she's getting enough rest, or if she's getting enough exercise, or if she's taken her vitamins.  I think they're all healthy concerns normally, there's just a more worrisome tone to them now.  I'm assuming this feeling will subside as I get used to the idea of being a father and is probably something that just comes along with finding out that your wife is pregnant, whether you're having one or three babies.  Then again, she came home from work today and told me she fell getting out of the car.  Immediately, I offered to switch cars with her.  I asked if it was a hard fall or slow roll.  She said it was the latter, which made me feel a little bit better, before she showed me the pretty good scuff on her knee.  No more heels for her during this pregnancy!  I've hid them all for the time being and left her with a good selection of flats.  Not really, but we definitely don't need any rolled ankles and I want to avoid anything that's going to make this pregnancy any riskier than it already is.

Speaking of risky pregnancies, that's exactly what we've have.  Any multiple birth pregnancy is considered high risk.  From a triplet perspective, ours is even higher risk since two of our babies are identical, i.e. sharing the same sac, compared to each of the babies having their own cocoons.

Risky pregnancy = Lots of visits to the doctor

At this point, we're still going to the fertility clinic, but will switch over to a high-risk OB afterwards.  In fact, Meg just reminded me we have another ultrasound appointment tomorrow, Tuesday, and then our first meeting with the OB on Wednesday.  Who am I kidding?  I've been counting down the hours until we get to go back and see our babies' heartbeats on the screen again.  At last check, all of the babies had reached the same size and they all had excellent FHRs (fetal heart rates).  When Meghan came home last week, she only had two ultrasound photos-one from baby B and one from baby C.  She said they didn't take a photo of baby A.  I couldn't be there last week, but you can bet your life on the fact that I'll be there tomorrow and that the doctor WILL be taking proper first pictures of our three kids.  And, yes, of course I'll share them with you all!

Also, I'll have a post in the next few days showing Meg's belly.  I didn't think I would see week-to-week changes, but I'll let you be the judge.  Since pictures are what usually keep people interested, and I was sick the last few days and didn't really take any, I'll just include one of my favorites of Meg.  Good night!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Another shot please!

of Progesterone that is. The countdown is on!  Only two more weeks of fertility-related shots and pills to go!  There will still be pre-natal vitamins, but Meg found these sugar-coated gummy vitamins at Target, so it's basically like having a daily dose of candy.

So, back to the shots and pills.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the IVF fertility process, you're about to be initiated.  ***WARNING***  If you're afraid of needles, then please skip on to the next post.

Today, we are exactly eight weeks and one day into our triplet pregnancy.  If you go back nine weeks, that's when the IVF magic began.  I had to give Meg shots of a drug called Lupron each morning for the six days leading up to the beginning of her menstrual cycle.  After a "Lupron evaluation," we had to change our daily shot routine to include Gonal F and Menopur.  This became our nightly routine--two shots before bedtime, alternating sides of her stomach every other night.  The Gonal F usually went pretty smoothly, but the Menopur BURNED, or so I'm told.

The purpose of all these shots was to make Meg's ovaries produce more eggs than they normally do--which is usually one per month guys.  At this point, Meg had to go in for daily monitoring appointments each morning before work so they could measure the size of her follicles (which hold the eggs).  Once they reached their ideal size, I had to give Meg an enormous intramuscular "trigger" shot on her backside in the middle of the night.  The "trigger" shot does exactly as it sounds by letting her ovaries know that it's time to release all of the eggs she's worked so hard produce.

Exactly 36 hours later, the egg retrieval is scheduled.  It's considered minor surgery and, as such, they knocked Meg out for the procedure.  Below, is a shot of our anesthesiologist hooking Meg up to an IV.

They retrieve the eggs by inserting a needle, not through her stomach, into both ovaries right at the time when they're releasing the eggs where, normally, one egg would be getting ready to go on its first and only date with the sperm that beat out the other 20 million contenders.

I can almost imagine it egg enters the fallopian tube on one end, hoping to meet its mate in a warm embrace as it travels towards the uterus.  But, instead, it finds itself surrounded by other competitive eggs and (insert sucking sound here) they're all suddenly swallowed up into a syringe and placed in a petri dish with only the top 10% of the most deserving sperm.   With all of the eggs and all of the sperm in one place, I imagine a scene occurring, probably similar to one-minute dating...

"So, what do you do for a living?" Next.
Or, "How much money do you make? Next.
Or, more importantly, "Do you see children in your future? BINGO!

For us, we began with 14 eggs.  Only 10 fertilized.  After five days, we had four "grade A" embryos.  Since this was our second round with IVF, it was suggested that we try with two embryos (the first time, we did one).  The other two are being Cryo-preserved.  With two embryos, SGFC's statistics told us that we had a 60% chance of getting pregnant, a 43% chance of having twins, and 1% chance of having triplets. By now, you know that we Won the Lottery, Hit the Jackpot, etc.

We officially found out that Meg was pregnant on Tuesday, 3/1/11, and went in for her first ultrasound on Wednesday, 3/16/11, a day that I will never forget.  Here's Meg patiently waiting for the ultrasound magic wand.

Part of the fun of actually being pregnant includes more shots and pills.  In Meg's case, it's shots of Progesterone (pic below) and a non-oral pill, Endometrin.  If you're interested in understanding why you need extra Progesterone when you're already pregnant, click here.

The area gets cleaned with an alcohol swab and then the Progesterone gets injected with this needle.

Honestly, it's not that bad.  Take a look at Meg's face, below.  I promise that she's hiding from the flash, not the pain of the needle.

Finally, after the price of admission into Club IVF, you get to have your picture taken by your photographically-obsessed husband for the next seven months, while be asked to hold up a sign that shows how uncomfortable you must be becoming with each passing week.  Maybe it's just me, but this is one sexy pregnant lady!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sleep Deprivation Training

As I sit here at 4:00am, having been awake for the previous three hours and working on only four hours of sleep the night before, I can't help but wonder if this is nature's way of preparing me for the upcoming challenge/blessing of having triplets.  Yes, that's right, we're having triplets!  I still haven't completely wrapped my head around it yet, but as each day passes, it starts to become a little more real.

When I found out that we were having triplets last week, I felt this insatiable desire to learn as much as I could about this pretty rare occurrence that was about to change our lives forever.  Since these will be our first babies, I don't have any prior experience to draw upon, but I have to believe this is a pretty common phenomenon, regardless of whether you're having one or three babies. 

You wouldn't believe how many hours I've spent scouring the internet, looking for information on what to expect.  Most of the books that can be found at your local Barnes & Noble or Borders are geared towards being pregnant with one child.  So, I figured, what better place than the internet to do my research?  The majority of what I've been reading has to do with other couple's experiences that they've shared through blogs.  I'm so grateful that they took the time to document and share their journeys, as it's really allowed me to learn more about what to expect during our pregnancy, what could go wrong, and what will be the most important experience in our lives.  To be honest, I've never felt so scared and so excited about anything in my entire life.

Speaking of "our" lives, I'm obviously not having triplets on my own.  I've been truly blessed with the most amazing wife, friend, partner, mother-to-be ever--Meghan.  We talked about creating this blog and how we felt about really opening up and sharing this experience with friends, colleagues, and others who may come across it as I did when I was searching for answers.  It's a very intimate part of our lives and there's a lot that could go wrong along the way, considering how risky of a pregnancy this is.  I've learned though, through a good friend who's been battling cancer (yes, I'm talking about you Errick Springfield), that sharing this information with your family and friends, even if it's through a blog, can do wonders for your soul.  Especially, when you're wondering if what you're experiencing/feeling is normal and when you encounter situations where you just can't find the words to speak, but somehow come out so naturally when putting pen to paper or, in this case, fingers to the keyboard.

I also wanted to make sure we had a way to document this transformation in our lives, in case time passes by too quickly and we forgot the thoughts and emotions that accompany each photo. 

Meg will pipe in from time to time with some "guest" posts, but I have a feeling that most of this experience will be shared through my eyes, via photography, and my words, via this blog.

I'll leave you with the first photo of our triplets.  God only knows (and possibly the embryologist), which one of these two blastocytes decided that two babies wouldn't be enough of a challenge for the DeBauche's and split in two to give us three!