Thursday, July 28, 2011

25 weeks and 3 days pregnant (still going strong!)

We were just put in touch with another triplet family who is going through what we went through only seven short weeks ago.  This family is also battling TTTS and their doctor made them feel hopeless about their chances of a successful pregnancy.  Through a friend, this family found out about our triplet group on facebook and, because I had shared my story there, one of the moms of the group who was familiar with our journey suggested that I reach out to her to see if I could help.  We're not doctors and I have no idea how their pregnancy will turn out, but we were able to provide some temporary support to a mother who had none and point them in a couple of other directions that gave them hope and new possibilities.

Just hearing about their experience brought back all of the sadness, anger, and frustration we felt in June.  It also made me realize what an amazing miracle it is that we're sitting here at 25 weeks and 3 days with no signs of stopping.  Meg just had her appointment this week and everything still looks great.  Meg is gaining weight a little more steadily now and so are the girls, though there is still a decent discrepancy between Isabelle and her sisters.

Sophia is the biggest, weighing in at 1 lb 12 oz, Madelyn is 1 lb 9 oz, and Isabelle is 1 lb 1 oz.  As I've mentioned before, developmentally speaking, they are all at the same stage.  The effects of TTTS have all but vanished and our girls are thriving.  Meghan still needs constant monitoring and sees both the OB and the MFM each, once a week, which I gather is getting a little tiring.  She knows it could always be worse--she could be on bedrest!

For now, she's still walking around the house but taking it easy when she needs to.

I have to say that I'm getting pretty disappointed with some of the ultrasound captures of our girls. I realize that most moms get two to three ultrasounds during their entire pregnancy, so I should probably be a little more grateful that I have as many images as I do, but besides the random good profile shot, most of the images make them look like aliens. Don't get me wrong, I do realize that they're stuck in there like sardines, which makes it hard to get a clear shot of anyone. I just want to see their beautiful little faces.

Here's Sophia (A)

Isabelle (B)

and Madelyn (C)

Some stats for this week.

Meg's due for another fetal echo next week, so we'll be sure to share if there's anything noteworthy.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Who's Been Sleeping In My Bed?

Not a long post tonight, but this was just too funny not to share.  Today, after spending all weekend working on the nursery and getting the cribs set up, Meg found someone, or more specifically, some animal sleeping in the new beds.  She turned the mobile on to see how Abigail the Cat would react.  My first thought was that she would attack the musical rotating temptation.  However, as was captured in one of Meg's cell phone videos, Abigail looked at Meg, look at the mobile, looked back at Meg, yawned, then stretched out for a cat nap.  It looks like we'll now have to intentionally keep the cat out of the room so she won't smother the girls.  I can only imagine the lure that warm little babies in a soft bed would be to a cat who seeks out moving sun spots on the floor and finds ways to crawl on top of cable boxes to soak up the heat.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Kind of Shopping Even a Dad Would Love

Wow, life sure has changed.  Just a couple of years ago, Friday evenings were spent preparing for the fun that would ensue later that night.  As if it were ripped straight from a dialogue in Old School, yesterday, we spent our ENTIRE evening at Bab.ies 'R Us.  We experienced a small taste of the spectacle we're going to be creating on a more regular basis, and the girls haven't even been born yet.  We spent four hours shopping and two hours checking out.  The foreshadowing was straight out of a book as the girl who saw us at 4:00 and then again at 5:00 said "You're still here!."  After we told her we'd be here a lot longer, her response was, "You better not be here until 10!"  We really we didn't think we actually would be there that long, but we were trying to get every last thing we needed for the babies.  We're not exactly sure how many more weeks Meg has on her feet or as an incubator, so we thought we'd have some fun, purchase some of the items we knew we would need, and make some progress on our nursery.  Why do everything all in one day and submit a pregnant woman to 6 hours straight of shopping?  Extreme couponers look out!  Somehow when we switched addresses we received a Be.d Bath and Be.yond coupon for 20% off of our entire purchase that expired today.  Those of you who save the 20% off each purchase know how valuable this coupon was, especially because Bab.ies R Us accepts competitors coupons.  We also knew if we closed out our registry they'd give us 15% off the entire purchase.   We really didn't want to lose out on the coupon stacking that was coming our way, but little did we know how good it was actually going to be!

As you can see below, this was not your average shopping experience.  In fact, I don't think I've ever lived through anything like it.  As we were sluggishly pushing our last cart to the front of the store, I came to the conclusion that babies were invented as a marketing ploy, with folks like Meg and me as the willing targets.  Babies have survived for millenniums without needing everything we purchased, as well as everything we've already received from the showers that were thrown for us, but we forged ahead nonetheless.

Once we notified the store manager that we were done with our shopping, she had one of those we're-gonna-need-some-help-over-here looks on her face and she called for reinforcements.  They took us over to the far registers, away from all of the other customers.  I assume they thought we would scare them with our five carts that were packed high like a pile of presents in a Dr. Seuss book, or maybe they were concerned that our piles would spill and bury their other customers.  Everyone else that was filing through the remaining line with their "one box of diapers" or (insert item-that-can-be-carried-in-one-hand here) looked over at our piles in awe.  Of course, the ladies that were checking us out kept letting everyone know, "It's okay, they're having triplets" which seemed to provide some relief to everyone who had been temporarily placed into shock.

After the final item on the receipt was printed and the register stopped smoking, we unraveled the receipt and took a picture.  Had I brought any one of my other cameras with a wider angle lens, I probably would've taken a much more exaggerated photo of the receipt, but this one will do and needs no special effects added to gets its meaning across.

Thank you Amber and Jamie for putting up with our shopping madness!

Will we use all of this stuff?  Who knows?  I think so.  I will say that we went a little overboard on decorating possibilities for the nursery, so some of those items will find their way back to the shelves in the store, once we figure out how much actual space we have with which to work.  The one thing I do know for sure is that shopping with Meg, for our babies, was a lot of fun and definitely helped to familiarize myself with just how much stuff these babies actually need.  Who knows, we may never get to do this again, so why not live it up! For those of you who love couponing, you'd be happy to know we actually received $1600 dollars off our bill.  Hopefully, we will never have another shopping experience like this one, but it was definitely worth the effort.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Clumsy Wife Syndrome

Surely, I can't be the first person to ever coin this phrase.  There must be a textbook definition of what's unfolding in front of my eyes, but I haven't found it yet, so I'm calling it "Clumsy Wife Syndrome."

Yes, my cute, fun-loving, pregnant wife is a mess.  I'm sure it has something to do with the pain she's feeling in both of her hands right now, but it's not like dropping everything is the only side-effect of her clumsiness, though she's doing that, too!

It's been going on now for at least the last couple of weeks.  I'm not sure a day has gone by where she hasn't knocked over her water glass, which is the most common mess by the way, or spilled food either on herself or on top of some undeserving and unexpecting household object.

Somehow, she's managed not to spill on me, but I'm sure that it's coming before the end of the pregnancy.

Have I mentioned before that my wife is extremely cute?  It's gotten to the point where every time she spills something, she starts laughing uncontrollably.  Her eyes squinch up, her belly begins to jiggle like Santa, and sometimes there are even tears.  I'll have to try to catch it on camera next time.  It makes me laugh just watching her.  I swear that she must be close to peeing her pants, but that hasn't happened...yet.

All kidding aside, she is experiencing a bout with carpel tunnel in both of her wrists/hands.  It's usually worse in the mornings, then feels a little better by the end of the day, though she has started sleeping with wrist guards on throughout the night.  She looks like a boxer getting her hands wrapped before a match.

Meg's been told that the fluid build-up in her wrists that is causing the carpel-tunnel-like symptoms will disappear once she gives birth.  I know she can't wait and neither can our floors.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Expert Baby Advice

I was recently told by a close friend that one of my most recent blog posts was pretty boring. He said that he was expecting to read about how I had whisked Meghan away to Italy to meet with another doctor and how we saved our babies' lives...again. He was only kidding of course, partly. Honestly, when it comes to anything exciting related to what's happening with our girls while they're still in the belly, I'm hoping the news is limited to how big they're growing and how strong their kicks are. I don't need any more excitement from this pregnancy!

Last week, Meg wrote about milestones. Well, today marks Week 24, which is the minimum age for viability in the NICU. What it really means is that if something were to happen to Meg from today on, then the hospital would attempt to save our girls' lives. There would definitely be a much higher risk of life-long problems associated with being born this early, but at least we know they'd have a chance. Our next big target is 28 weeks, so keep the prayers coming!

On a separate note, I decided that in order to post more frequently, and with a lack of any really exciting news, I would post some of the world's best advice for having triplets. This is no ordinary advice mind you, as it comes from the kids at Meg's former school. Who knows more about kids than other kids, right? One of the teachers at Mt. Eagle Elementary had many of the kids write down their thoughts on how to best to raise our three girls.

I'm not going to share them all at once, as that would definitely spoil the fun, but instead, I'll share a few today and then share more on the days when there's not much else going on with the pregnancy. I have to worn you, be prepared to laugh as some of these are downright hilarious.


From Alison (2nd grade)
"When a baby cry's Mrs. DeBauche, you cecke it's diaper. Because my mom said ushly when baby's cry, they did dodo. And if a baby cry's because it can't sleep, read it a book. I think you will be a great mother because your relly nice and your like my mother and that's why I know you'll be a great mother. I think 3 babies are relly hard because of the crying, feeding, and changing dyper's! Trust me, it's hard work. And I hope the dodo isn't stinky. And listen to my advice because the boys don't know about baby's."

From Christopher (3rd grade)
"She can put them to sleep like Mrs. DeBauche has 2 her husband has 1. She can have 2 babies and give them there milk and the dad haves 1 babies and give the babie her milk. What if the three babies cry and the husband is no there. What will she do? I think she will be a good mom because she is a reading teacher. She can help them read then they will be the smartest kids in the grade."

From Melvin (2nd grade)
"Buy a mushen that can pop out six hans whin you are bese doing chors. Or whin you are takeing cair of the babies the mushen can do the chors. Put the babies in bed and read thum a bed time store and play with thum."

From Abigail (5th grade)
"Dear Mrs. DeBauche, Baby advice is very important and I'm here to show you how to take care of 3 babies Abigail's style. First, you might want to be a caring mom and remember that your 3 babies are your memories. Second, make sure you take care of them like they are best of all. Third (and last of all), make sure to never forget us and your family. Your friend and helper, Abigail."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Milestones (by Meghan)

(Meg actually wrote this on Friday, but I didn't have her pic ready until now)

We hit 23 weeks on Friday and it was an extra special day.  Exactly four weeks ago we flew to Miami for surgery.  There were so many milestones they gave us post surgery, which all of you know.  The last one was Friday.  They told us we could have complications from the surgery up to 4 weeks after, such as losing heartbeats.  It was a wonderful, boring day without any complications.

It does seem from reading on the TTTS Facebook page there is one more complication that could pop up.  It seems pretty common for the placenta to separate 8 to 10 weeks post surgery.  Although we'll need to watch this, we should be past 28 weeks at that point, which is a much safer stage for the babies.

Another small celebration happened at my last appointment.  It seems the prayers keep coming because these girls keep fighting their way back to health with each day that passes.  At my appointment yesterday, we were told for the first time that Sophia, our recipient, no longer has regurgitation.  I'm not sure that this means it's gone for good.  It may still be there intermittently, but for the first time in the last month, we actually had a scan where the doctor did not see it.  That leaves one last symptom of the TTTS still to clear up: her enlarged right ventricle.  Can you believe this?  Those words "too sick to save" keep coming back into my mind with each improvement she makes.  Good thing we didn't listen to that because she clearly was no such thing.  For those of you who know the women in my family this makes me think one thing.  She must be a Murray woman, a strong Irish woman with lots of fight and stubbornness in her. Thank God for that!

Now back to looking ahead.  To all of our prayer warriors out there, we have many more milestones to go before we have three beautiful, healthy baby girls. The first one is next Friday.  At 24 weeks, we'll be in the range where they could live if they are born.  There would be many obstacles to overcome if they were born that early.  We're hoping they hold on much longer than that, but next Friday actually puts us past the point where a miscarriage could mean we lose all three.

Each Friday after that we're one week further along in development and one step closer to worrying about lung problems such as asthma instead of brain damage from being born too early. We'll reach this milestone on August 12th.  Then on August 26, two weeks later, we'll reach the next one: 30 weeks.  I haven't gained any weight in the last four weeks. The doctor told me at this stage in the pregnancy my metabolism is so fast there is no way I could eat more food than it can process.  They also told me I don't need to worry about it because I gained enough in the beginning of the pregnancy to make up for this time.  The good news is even though I'm not gaining, the babies are.  As of Thursday, Sophia had gone from 12 oz. to 1lb. 1oz., Isabelle went from 8oz to 11oz, and Madelyn went from 10oz to 16 oz.   We asked the doctor when they would start gaining more weight and were told that happened in the last 10 weeks.  We're keeping our fingers crossed that we make it as far into September as we can.  We were told the last day they'll let us go until is September 29th, the last day of our 34th week.  Each day we get closer to that day is a blessing. 23 weeks down and 11 more to go!  Every Friday we'll be doing the Happy Dance!

Here's a recent pic of my belly.  Sometimes it seems small as if it hasn't been growing in a few days and sometimes it seems huge. We've been watching Make Room For Multiples on TLC and one thing is for sure--it's no where near where it will be if we make it into the 30s. This belly is only holding about three pounds of baby and hopefully we'll be much closer to 14 pounds of baby by the end.  Can you imagine?  It's not even halfway there!

Here are a couple of bonus pics from the ultrasound last week.  Our sonographer couldn't get a good image of Sophia or Isabelle, but managed to grab a good profile shot of Madelyn and, of course, one of Isabelle covering her face. Sophia was there, it's just getting so crowded in there that there was always one of her sister's hands or feet in her face.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pregnant Women Make Excellent Body Pillows

I'm sure you read the title of this post and thought to yourself, "He must have meant, Pregnant Women Need Excellent Body Pillows," but you'd be mistaken.  Late Friday evening, Meg and I plopped ourselves onto our bed that's just a little too high for her to crawl in to.  I had just wrapped up two of the busiest weeks of my life.  I had a lot of catching up to do at work, having been less than productive while recovering from the appendectomy, flying to be with Meg during the TTTS surgery, and wrapping up loose ends in DC.  I was exhausted.  I had been working until around 11:00pm each night and Meg had been hard at work emptying all of the boxes from our move.  Don't worry, she didn't overdo it.  She impatiently waited patiently for me to take a break from work and help lift and move the boxes in to more convenient locations to be unpacked.  It was also the end of the quarter, which for a sales guy, is a busy time on its own.

So, after rushing on Friday to get the last remaining boxes put away and getting the guest bedrooms organized for her incoming family, she cuddled up next to me and positioned me like I was her body pillow--stomach to stomach, one of my thighs between her knees, and my shoulder folded down so she could wrap her arm over the top.  Little did she know that this position was actually extremely comfortable for me, too!  One of my legs was elevated and supported by one of her legs.  Her ever expanding belly kept me from rolling too far forward.  And two pregnancy-driven pillows provided excellent neck and head support.  Who knew snuggling with your pregnant wife in this position could be so damn comfortable?  Pregnant women DO make excellent body pillows!

Let's see, what else have we been up to?  Of course we went out to watch fireworks last night.  While it was blazing hot during the day (to me at least), the evening turned very comfortable and we had perfect viewing weather for an awesome fireworks show.  For once, I left the bulk of my camera gear at home so I could just enjoy spending some time with my wife, because as most spouses of photographers know, they tend to get ignored ever so slightly when there are never-ending photographic subjects around.  Of course, I instantly regretted it (the "not bringing my gear" part, not the "hanging out with my wife part") when I saw other photographers with their arrays of lenses and camera bodies set up on their tripods.  I could never go completely without some sort of camera.  So, I brought a small one to capture some of the last remaining moments of peace and relaxation during this holiday, knowing all future 4th of July weekends, while they will probably be memorable in their own right, will probably not best be described using the adjective "relaxing."

My beautiful wife

Rare photo of me on the other side of the camera

Meg enjoying her folding recliner

Meg's cousin Shallee's daughter - Kylie

Shallee, our secret baby whisperer-to-be

Proof that we were actually there

Also, our t.v. finally gave up the good fight and failed to turn on after an hours' worth of playing the on-and-off game.  I guess some electronics just don't handle cross country moves very well.  I'm not ready to completely discard it, so I'm having a little bit of diagnostic work done to see if it's something that can be fixed.  However, due to its ailments over the past year, and Meg's desire to have something less mammoth in the family room, it's going to be relegated to the basement, where I'll probably be looking to escape in the future :)  We went to check out some new sets and they all seem to come with 3D these days.  I definitely won't say that I selected our t.v. because it had 3D capabilities, but it did come with a pretty cool 3D starter set for free and I do like me a good deal.  Weren't we supposed to be watching 3D holographic television by now?  What's up with the glasses?  Didn't the t.v. makers make a run at 3D before?  I bet all of the 3D t.v. makers are just sitting around laughing at how silly everyone looks in these glasses.  Heck, look at us.  What a bunch of dorks!

We've also been making a lot of progress with the trim work projects in the master bedroom and the babies' room.  If you recall from my previous posts, I wanted to add chair rail and crown molding in the girls' room, as well as some slightly more elaborate trim work in our bedroom.  I began these projects will a full-fledged commitment to completing them mostly on my own.  However, recently, I've succumbed to the fact that I just can't do it all, especially not before the babies get here.  I'm not too proud to admit it...I need help!  An excellent carpenter, Mr. Tom Piesz, had been patiently educating me in the ways of woodworking, but I've placed the project management responsibilities in his capable hands.  While I have no doubt that I could've eventually "gotten there," I wanted our girls to be able to sleep in their bedroom before their fifth birthday and my dream is definitely becoming a reality.  Once the trim is done in both rooms, next comes the painting!

Our bedroom - probably doesn't look like a lot of progress, but there were 180 pieces of small trim that needed to be fit inside each panel. Just the big parts are left.

The girl's room - chair rail and crown molding are new

We've also been trying to get our yard in order.  While I try to maintain it on a weekly basis, the big projects get farmed out.  While Meg's family was in town, we put 'em to work.  There's no free lunch at Chateau DeBauche.  Both the herb garden on the patio and the flower bed to the right are courtesy of her dad, stepmom, aunt, and Charlie.  Family is great!

In case you're wondering, Meghan and the girls are all doing great!  Throughout the rest of the pregnancy, she's scheduled to see her OB and MFM on a weekly basis, which is great for a worrier like me.  I like frequent feedback, so verifying that the girls are continuously improving after the surgery, and knowing that all three heartbeats are still there, does wonders for my soul.  While very mobile throughout the first part of the pregnancy, I definitely think she's starting to feel more pregnant lately.  Getting up and down is absolutely more of a chore than it used to be.  She's also feeling some numbness, tingling, and pain in her hands that she's shared with the doctors and they don't seem too concerned over because "It's normal."  At this point, there's no confusion whether what we're feeling in her belly are actually kicks or not.  These girls are active and are definitely telling us "Hey, we're in here and we're ok, but my sisters are making it crowded!"  Madelyn is still doing well, though she's never really had any difficulties during this pregnancy.  Sophia and Isabelle are doing so well that a new fetal cardiologist told Meg that if he hadn't known that they had TTTS, he wouldn't have been able to tell by looking at them.  Sophia still has some regurgitation in her heart, but it's not enlarged anymore.  Though there's still a small amount of fluid around her heart, it's decreasing each week.  Isabelle still has some intermittent drops in her diastolic cord blood pressure, but still, the doctors aren't concerned.  Meg goes back to the MFM tomorrow, so hopefully we'll get some updated ultrasound images to share.  Meg's also due for a pregnancy update photo!

Lastly, I can't remember if I've ever introduced Abigail, but she's the other member of our family.  I don't know if she has any idea that three little girls are on their way, but boy is she in for a surprise in a few months.  I think she's pretty used to the quiet around our house and she thinks she pretty much rules the roost.  It will be interesting...