Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Welcome ICLWers

Welcome all new visitors and thanks for stopping by! I'll give you a recap of our TTC journey, the loss of our twin girls and life with our wonderful son, Carter. I'll warn you this will likely be long as I think this may be the first time I've written our story in detail.

My husband Ralph and I decided we wanted to try for a baby in 2008. After trying for about 8 months with no luck I knew something was wrong. I have always had irregular cycles and was charting my basal body temperature which was all over the place, with no discernible pattern. So I knew I likely wasn't ovulating.... which is sort of a key component in the whole baby making thing!

Even though we had only been trying for 8 months I convinced a doctor to do some further investigating. I think given my irregular cycles and no luck conceiving she knew something was up too. She referred me to an OB who reviewed my bloodwork and symptoms, and he diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).

He told us that we likely wouldn't get pregnant on our own, but would need the help of medication. I took Clomid 50mg in June 2009 and got pregnant on the first cycle. We were ecstatic! About 6 weeks in I was having intense cramping and was worried something was wrong. After a visit to the Emergency Department and a subsequent ultrasound we found out we were pregnant with TWINS! Wow! At this time I was in my fourth year of Nursing School so we were really scrambling to figure out how this was going to work. We knew we would figure it out in time, it was just a big (welcomed) shock!

At around 14 weeks I started to feel frequent contractions. I didn't know what they were at first, but after some research (good ole dr. google) and talking with friends I figured out thats what they were. I knew this seemed a bit early to be having braxton hicks and found myself in the ER on numerous occasions due to their frequency and intensity. I was told every time I went that there's no way they could be contractions and I must just be feeling the babies moving. I was getting them ALL THE TIME! I'd say 4-6 an hour, every hour regardless of whether I was walking around or just sitting quietly. I drank TONS of water and rested as often as I could, but the contractions continued.

On November 20, 2009 I was 23 weeks 5 days pregnant and was at the theatre with family. The contractions continued, except this time there appeared to be a pattern, and I timed them at every 5 minutes for about half an hour. I had my husband pick me up to bring me to labour and delivery. I remember telling him on the way that I'm sure everything is fine as it had been every other time we'd been.

I was hooked up to the monitor and the nurse noted that the contractions were every 2 minutes. She looked concerned, initiated an IV and called the doctor immediately. Things get sort of fuzzy from here, but the doctor seemed to appear within minutes. He checked me and told us that I was 2.5cm dilated with the amniotic sac bulging. We were told that I needed to be airlifted to Vancouver ASAP and placed on bedrest until the babies were born.

Ralph and I were transported by helicopter to Vancouver within a couple of hours. Initially I was given a nitro patch, as this was the new protocol for my situation. It was supposed to slow down the contractions, but it had no effect on me whatsoever! I talked to the OB there about magnesium sulphate as I had researched this in the past. He stated that it has become a last resort in the past couple of years, and they are trying to phase it out for preterm labour. However, he felt that it was the only thing that was going to slow down my contractions at this point.

Finally, the contractions were slowing down even stopping for a short period of time. I remember telling one of my nurses that everything was blurry and I felt extremely hot. She said the Magnesium can cause blurred vision and not to be concerned. When she came into see me next time I told her my eyesight was so bad I couldn't even look at her straight. This time she could tell something was seriously wrong as she checked the reflexes in my legs. I had no reflexes in my left leg! At this time I'm starting to get even more worried. I must note that the babies were doing very well through all of this! The nurse returned to my room with an order from the doctor to discontinue the Magnesium as it was obviously reaching toxic levels.

Once the Magnesium was discontinued the contractions returned full force. Over the weekend at some point I woke up with pain in my chest. The nurse brushed it off as indigestion and gave me an antacid. The next time I woke up my chest felt like an elephant was sitting on it and I couldn't breath. I told Ralph to get the nurse as something was seriously wrong!! She checked my oxygen saturation and it was in the 70's-80's (for non medical folks it should be in the high 90's for a young healthy adult).

Again, things get VERY fuzzy from this point on. She put an oxygen mask on my face and returned with several people. I had one person on one arm taking Arterial Blood Gases and someone on the other arm trying to start another IV. I then had an echocardiogram done right in the room and was immediately sent for a chest x-ray and CT scan. I vaguely remember laying on the CT table barely able to breath and having full on contractions.

As soon as I returned to my room I was visited by two doctors from the ICU. They explained to me that if my condition didn't improve quickly I would need to be ventilated and taken to the ICU. I was so scared! I've never been so scared in my entire life! I asked Ralph to call my parents in Ireland as I wanted to say goodbye to them. I really thought I wasn't going to make it. I remember saying goodbye to Ralph too.

I was told that there was about 3 litres of fluid on my lungs and they needed to get rid of it fast. I was given a catheter and Lasix, and peed litres upon litres of fluid out. Just as quickly as I became ill, I started to improve within hours.

Once my condition was improving I had a Cardiologist visit me. She explained that I had Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome which she said was likely brought on by the Magnesium Sulphate. Apparently this is a rare side effect of the medication.

On the morning of November 25 at 24 weeks 3 days I was transported to another hospital as the NICU in the current hospital was full. My contractions intensified throughout the day and by evening I was in full blown labour. There was absolutely no stopping it at this time and I was given an epidural. I was brought into the operating room because the doctors needed to be prepared incase they had to perform a cesarean section. I remember being wheeled into a giant, bright room filled with at least 20-25 people. There were about 5 people each hovering around 2 isolettes waiting to stabilize our babies and transport them to the NICU. When it came time to push I couldn't tell when I was contracting so the wonderful nurse guided me. Chloe was born at 11:40pm and her sister Zoe followed her 15 minutes later at 11:55pm. She was so close to being born the next day!! I waited anxiously to hear them cry and never did... Once they were stabilized the NICU teams let us see them briefly before they were wisked away to the NICU.

Over the next two weeks we watched our daughters fight for their lives. We often got calls in the middle of the night to come into the NICU immediately as one of them was doing poorly. Chloe developed a grade 4 brain bleed very early on and after lengthy discussions with the doctors and nurses we made the most difficult decision of our lives. We didn't want our daughter to suffer and we withdrew life support. The wonderful nurses let the girls be together one last time before we let Chloe go. We took so many photos. It was so incredibly hard, but I knew that I would regret not having them when I was ready to look back at them. And now, they are my most treasured possessions!

Here is one of only a handful of photos of us all together (Ralph wasn't feeling well so he had to wear a mask):

Here is a photo of Chloe and Zoe together. Chloe is on the right and Zoe is on the left.

Zoe had been doing fairly well considering she was in the NICU, but only a couple of days after Chloe passed away she developed a life threatening infection and also developed a grade 4 brain bleed. We were again faced with the most difficult decision of our lives, a decision I never thought we would have to face again. After many many discussions, again we did not want our daughter to suffer. We withdrew life support on December 9th and Zoe was reunited with her sister. This is so incredibly difficult to write, yet I am glad to finally write it down in detail.

Not one single day goes by that I don't think of our beautiful daughters. I often think about how old they would be today and what they would look like. I think about what their little personalities would be like... would they be laid back like Ralph or more like me.... a little high strung....? Would they have my straight hair or Ralphs curls? I know that we did what we thought was best and I know that given the circumstances again we would still make the same decision, but it's still incredibly difficult to live with! Oh, how I haven't cried like this in quite a while..... It's good to have a cry every now and then I think....

Fast forward to April 2011. I take one round of Clomid and get pregnant, which unfortunately ends in an early miscarriage at around 6 weeks. Ralph and I then go on vacation to the Dominican Republic to clear our heads. I take another round of Clomid 50mg in June 2011 and bam! pregnant again! You should note that I got pregnant 3 times each with one round of Clomid on the lowest dose. I thought there was absolutely no way I would get pregnant so quickly the third time, but lo and behold it worked!

Since this post is already ridiculously long and I go into great detail about that pregnancy on my blog (check out the archive on the right), I will make this brief. I started having contractions again around 14 weeks, and was put on bedrest at 20 weeks. I was in and out of the hospital from 20 weeks until I delivered our son one day before his due date. I had 5-6 contractions every hour of every single day from 20 weeks on and had weekly cervical checks to ensure that there were no changes there. This pregnancy was incredibly scary! I feared losing our son almost every single day, as I knew first hand how bad things could go.

The day before his due date I noticed some swelling in my legs and decided to check my blood pressure. It was incredibly high for me! I waited a few minutes, checked it again then called labour and delivery to tell them I was coming in since it was still really high. They confirmed the high BP and I was told I needed to be induced. The doctor broke my water, which kicked the contractions into high gear! I laboured for 6 hours and our beautiful baby boy entered the world at 4:58pm March 18, 2012.

He is the light in our lives! We are so incredibly grateful to have him here, healthy as can be. He is now 7 months old and full of wonder and discovery. I often cry with joy for him and can't fully express with words how much he means to us.

Many things are bitter sweet for us. Carter sleeps in one of the cribs we bought for our girls... and wore  their sleepers and socks when he was a few months old. We use the crib sets we bought them, as well as the baby monitor. These are things that remind me of them everyday!

I wish I knew what the future holds. We know we want more children, but I don't know if I can handle another high risk pregnancy. We've got a few years to think about it anyway. I just wish I knew that if I got pregnant again that everything would be ok!

For now we are enjoying life with our wonderful son and soaking up the here and now, as none of us really knows what tomorrow brings.

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading,


Monday, October 22, 2012


IComLeavWe: Join the Conversation

This is my first time participating in the International Comment Leaving Week. The idea is to make a conscious effort to leave comments on the blogs you read, and hopefully receive comments on your own blog as well. I check the stats on my blog every couple of days and see that many people come and go, but they rarely comment. I think I've had a grand total of 6 comments left on the 78 posts I've written over the past couple of years.

Comments are a great way to engage in the blog community. They are a way of letting the blogger know that you are actually reading the post and not just passing by. I know that the few times I have received comments I found it encouraging to continue writing as I know somebody is reading.

- Amy

Monday, October 8, 2012

Glorious Sleep!

Sleep Training

We've completed 4 nights of sleep training thus far and we are all SLEEPING! Yay! The first night Carter got up 5 times, and the longest he cried for was 40 minutes. Whenever he cried we would leave him for a few minutes before going to him. We would talk to him, rub his belly, etc until he calmed down then he would fall back asleep.

The second night he got up 3 times and cried for 40 minutes once. The other 2 times he cried for about 5 minutes. Again, we gave him a few minutes before going to him. We only had to go to him the one time as he settled by himself the other 2 times.

The third night Carter cried for a grand total of 13 minutes the entire night! He cried for 10 minutes when we put him down to bed, then 3 minutes one other time in the night. We didn't have to go to him as he settled by himself.

Then last night he cried for about 5 minutes when we put him to bed then about 1 minutes one other time during he night. He settled by himself.

We try to put him to bed around 7-730pm each night, whereas his bedtime before sleep training was about 9pm. He gets up for the day around 7am, so he's sleeping for close to 12 hours.The training has been far less difficult than we anticipated. I am definitely calling it a success at this point. I know things could change at any minute, but it's working for now!

Weight Loss

Ralph and I have now been doing Weight Watchers for 3 weeks and have both lost around 6 pounds. Frankly I have no idea how I have lost anything in the past week as I have been eating fairly badly. My hip has also still been bothering me, and I've been going to physiotherapy regularly. I'm hoping that I will be able to get back to exercising within the next week. That should help ramp up the weight loss..... that and cutting back on the chocolate. Oh how I LOVE my chocolate, it's my biggest weakness!

Oh... I also must note that I managed to squeeze into a pair of pre pregnancy jeans this weekend! Granted they were not exactly comfortable, but they closed and I wore them anyway :)

Pumpkin Patch

We visited a local farm over the weekend and Carter picked out a couple of pumpkins. It was a lot of fun, and I could definitely see this becoming a family tradition. Here are a few photos from our day:

We will be having Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow and I'm so looking forward to it! It just hasn't been the same the past couple of years so far from family and friends. We have SO much to be thankful for this year! We plan on blending up turkey dinner for Carter, I hope he likes it. 

- Amy

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sleep Training Night #1

We have reached that point.... that point where we are no longer fully functioning human beings, because we are THAT sleep deprived! Carter has never been a good sleeper, but he's been especially difficult the past few weeks. He woke up about 10 times last night... and that's a fairly average night lately. He's not hungry, as we've tried feeding him when he wakes up and he's just not interested. He has this little Fisher Price sea horse that plays music and its little belly lights up. We usually turn that on and he falls back asleep instantly. He just won't stay asleep, waking up anywhere from every 30 minutes to about an hour and a half.

When it comes to babies and sleep, there is much debate about what's best for baby. Like everything parenting related, there are extremes in both directions. Some parents co-sleep, and some have them in there own room from day one. Some parents allow baby to cry, while others jump to them as soon as they make a peep. I have read many articles, and spoken to many people on this subject and everybody has something different to say. I've been told that letting baby cry for too long causes brain damage, or attachment issues. While going to them every time they make a sound can apparently cause the child to have dependency issues as they get older. I know there are many more theories out there, but these are the ones that stick out in my mind right now.

We swore from day one that we would never let Carter cry it out, and we've stuck to that for 6 months. We've gone to him every time he cries to comfort him as we felt it was best for him. We expected as new parents that we wouldn't be getting a whole lot of sleep in the beginning, but didn't expect it to last this long. Don't get me wrong, we really don't expect Carter to sleep 12 hours a night but it would be super if he would wake up a little less than 10 times a night. What we are doing is obviously not working. NOBODY is getting ANY sleep!

We do not believe in putting him down, walking away and letting him scream for hours, but we can't continue to go to him every time he makes a sound. I spoke to a friend a few weeks ago about how sleep deprived we were and she gave me a book. Part of me hoped that this was likely a phase and he would get over it in a couple of weeks.... back to only waking a 4-5 times in a night so I hadn't looked at the book. I decided last night since I wasn't getting any sleep anyway that I would have a look at it....

The book is called "The Sleep Sense Program: Proven Strategies for Teaching Your Child to Sleep Through the Night" by Dana Obleman. The basic idea of the program sound like a milder form of crying it out. You are given the option to stay in the room or use the leave and check method. We have chosen the stay in the room method as we feel this is a little less cruel. The book states that you should have a nightly bedtime routine for your baby, and keep it the same every night. This can include a bath (if baby enjoys baths... not a good idea if they don't like it and will get worked up.... that would be slightly counterproductive!), reading them a story, cuddling, listening to music, bottle/breast feeding, etc. This is not exactly mind-blowing, original information, as most of this stuff is sort of common sense but it give us a sense of focus and direction in our sleep deprived fog.

We had planned on starting a little routine tonight starting with a bath, but little man was extremely agitated by 7pm so we decided to skip the routine for tonight and just put him to bed. Carter's usual bedtime has been around 9pm, where as the book suggests a 6 month old should be in bed by around 7-8pm. I know at least for myself my first thought was not to put him to bed earlier, but to keep him up later hoping he will sleep later in the morning. The book suggests that babies will likely wake up at around the same times each night regardless of what time they go to bed, and often they are tired way before they show the very obvious signs of fussiness and eye rubbing.

So...  we put him down for bed at 7. He cried for 10 minutes before falling asleep. During that time the book makes it clear that it's ok to comfort baby in these first few nights, but try to resist picking them up. I rubbed his little belly and stroked his face gently, which calmed him down significantly. The key however is not to provide these comfort measures to the point where baby falls asleep to them. He needs to learn to fall asleep on his own. We also took his "sleep props" away, which includes his pacifier and his little seahorse. The book suggests that your child gets used to these props, and cannot effectively fall asleep without them. They wake up in the middle of the night looking for these props and cry out for mommy and daddy to provide them... This makes perfect sense to me. In our case, Carter relies on us to turn his sea horse on each time he wakes up. It works like a switch, he falls asleep within 5 seconds most times! So far he has woken at 7:45pm and cried for 40 minutes. During that time I stood at his crib side, held his hand and talked to him. It was gut wrenching!!! I felt like an absolute MONSTER!! I just kept telling myself that we are doing this for all of us; he needs to sleep too!

So there it is... I've put myself out there, and know that I may be told that this is not the right thing to do. Every parent has their own beliefs and philosophies on parenting, and no two babies are exactly alike. I think we must be willing to adapt and do whats best for the whole family. If we don't feel this method is helping at all after a few nights we will try something different. I'm always open to suggestions from other parents that have been there. I have a friend who has been having sleeping issues with her child suggest a different book that worked for her family. It's called the Baby Whisperer, and I think I may have a look at it also. Like I said, I like to stay open minded so its good to see what other methods are out there.

It's now been 3 since he fell asleep last..... this has got to be a record these days!! I'll keep you updated as to how this whole sleep training thing goes.

And here's a couple of recent photos of our adorable little man. Despite the sleep deprivation I love him more than words could ever describe!!


Eating the table at Applebees

Ok mom.... the food is supposed to go in my MOUTH!

- Amy