Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Abnormal quad screening, negative maternit21

So what would pregnancy be without a little drama?

Overall things have been much easier this pregnancy and going really well. Then I got an abnormal quad screening result.

The quad screening checks for downs syndrome and other neural defects in the baby by looking at your age, the NT ultrasound at 12 weeks, a blood test around 12 weeks and an additional blood test around 18 weeks. After the NT scan and the 12 week blood work, our chance of the baby having downs syndrome was 1 in 10,000. With the twins, I never got the 18 week blood work b/c the numbers aren't very accurate for twins. But I went ahead and got it this time. Wish I hadn't!

So I hadn't really thought much about my blood work until I got a voice mail from a "genetics counselor" in the high-risk doctor's office wanting to discuss my blood work results. My heart sank. I knew this wouldn't be a good call.

My AFP (alpha fetoprotein) numbers were low (0.4) which can suggest a possibility of down syndrome. So that 1 in 10,000 chance dropped to 1 in 120. If the numbers are lower than 1 in 250, they are considered positive for a screening. So technically my test was "positive" not meaning the baby would have downs syndrome, just that my screening showed a higher likely hood.

The genetics counselor explained about the 1 in 120 results. Keeping in mind that this is still very low odds (less than 1 percent), she explained I had a few options.
1. Do nothing. Less than 1 percent is still very low.
2. Amnio: Doctors can take a sample of amniotic fluid to determine with 100 percent accuracy if baby has downs syndrome. However, it does have a chance of miscarriage. I declined this option.
3. Maternit21 test: A blood test that can determine with 90 to 96 percent accuracy if baby has downs syndrome. A blood test didn't seem too bad - I opted for this option.

So I had the Maternit21 blood test done the day after Thanksgiving and it took about ten days for results to get in. Baby does not have downs syndrome! Hooray!

The only hiccup in this entire drama? Because my quad screen was a false positive, there is a connection between having these kind of results and having placenta problems in the pregnancy, specifically with preeclampsia and IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction). Basically it would mean the baby wasn't growing correctly and combined with high blood pressure and the risk of preeclampsia turning into eclampsia, there would be a possibility of needing to deliver early.

That's a lot of scary shit.

BUT, all this means is that I have a slightly higher chance of developing preeclampsia and IUGR. So they are going to monitor me closely and hopefully I don't have any issues. I'll have a growth scan at 28 weeks, then starting at 32 weeks I'll have a weekly (or bi-weekly if needed) growth scan.

I felt absolutely crushed at first. I have been determined with this pregnancy to not have a baby come early, to avoid the NICU at all costs, and to keep my baby growing inside as long as possible. I also felt bummed because if I was having any problems, they would have to induce me which would mean no vbac (apparently being induced after a c-section has a high risk of rupturing and both baby and mama could die). So it's not like a c-section is the end of the world, but my heart is set on delivering vaginally and holding my baby right away. I still feel a little traumatized by the girls birth when they were taken immediately and I didn't even see them for four hours, let alone hold them for days!

As I've had time to process this and talk to my doctor, I feel okay about the situation. First off, it's only a CHANCE that I could develop these problems, and an unlikely one at at that. My doctor said they get about three false-positive quad screenings a year and NONE of them have ever had IUGR/preeclampsia problems. (I like those odds!) So while the extra monitoring is annoying, it's just extra monitoring. At least I get to see the baby more with extra ultrasounds.

Baby is doing really well, kicking up a storm and growing well. Let's hope this continues! And for what it's worth - I would suggest to anyone not to get these tests. Not worth the stress of having a false positive.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Nine days in a row at home!

Our daycare closes for two weeks each year - during July 4th week and during Christmas week - so I took some vacation days and had an entire nine days (including the weekends) at home with my girls. It was awesome.

Here are some of the things we've been up to:
  • Christmas cookie making: The fourth annual sister cookie making night expanded to a new generation to include the girls this year. They actually had a really good time eating the raw dough and sprinkles. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZlh4R9c158 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXUKtbS5-Qk
  • Cookies!
  • Pedicures and dance parties: Brooklyn is obsessed with the polish on my toe nails (Darren got me a pregnancy spa package for my birthday so I had a pedicure, facial and massage, which was amazing.) She wouldn't stop pointing to my toes so I got out the polish and did hers too. She was so excited. Then I tried to do Bailey's. She screamed! Not a nail polish fan. I got two toes done on Bailey. The girls are also obsessed with spinning in circles to the Frozen soundtrack and Taylor Swift videos so we did a lot of that that, too. And I totally caught Darren dancing with them to T. Swift
  • Brooklyn top, Bailey bottom
  • Family parties: We did a Christmas exchange with Darren's family before Christmas, Christmas Even with my family and Christmas Day with Darren's extended family. So many nice gifts! The girls really started to get the hang of opening presents too. (Watch Christmas morning time lapsed in 25 seconds). They had a lot of favorites but really loved the fold out couches from Darren's sister, the kitchen set from my parents and the twin cabbage patch dolls from us.
  • Couches
  • A visit to the farm: Darren's grandma lives on a farm. The girls got to see cows up close. Bailey wasn't a fan of the dark barn, but both girls liked watching the cows eat outside in the daylight. 
  • Cows!

  • Outdoor walks: We had really unusually warm weather for December.We let the girls walk around outside (which more of a frantic run). They even pushed their baby doll strollers for a bit. Super cute.

  • Twins pushing twins!

  • Zoo: We also took advantage of one of the warm days to take the girls to the zoo with our zoo pass. Highlight of the trip was seeing both tigers out and hearing the one tiger roar (loudly!) several times.

  • Zoo

  • Botanical Gardens: We went to the all aglow at Botanical Gardens on Christmas Eve morning. Saw the lights, the Christmas trees, the ginger bread houses and all the flowers. Girls really liked the canopy view in the main indoor exhibit. 

  • Canopy view

  • Double engagement - Both my brother AND sister got engaged on Christmas Eve! This made for a super fun celebration that night. Girls even got to enjoy the champagne toast (with sparkling apple juice).

  • Double engagement!

    • Swimming - We also took the girls swimming at my aunt's apartment. They haven't been swimming since this summer so it took them a bit to warm up to it. Lots of splashing!

    More pictures from Christmas!

    Picnic Table Redo

    I've been working on a project for the girls that I was able to finish before Christmas - redoing a picnic table.

    I bought this (pretty ugly) outdoor plastic picnic table at a garage sale for $7 at the end of summer.

    Found a craft idea for it on Pinterest (http://caroline-frei.blogspot.com/2012/06/kids-picnic-table-redo.html) and got to work.

    It was actually pretty easy. The table had to be taken apart using a screw driver. Then I spray painted the plastic (I wore a mask to keep baby safe!). It took me two coats. I realized too that you really don't need to spray paint the top or the benches since they'll be covered in fabric.

    Based on the blog, the original crafter used fabric and then covered it again with a clear vinyl. I just bought a vinyl table cloth instead. Worked just fine. I used a heavy duty staple gun to secure the table cloth, then screwed the pieces back in place.

    I put the new table under the tree with a nice purple bow and the girls have been climbing all over it already. Nice, easy gift idea!

    Monday, December 15, 2014

    Cutting bottles, nesting

    So we cut bottles cold turkey a couple weeks ago. It was surprisingly uneventful. I know a lot of people say to cut bottles around 12 months but that just wasn't happening for us. But they were done by 18 months.

    We introduced sippy cups pretty early and they've always been okay at using them. They never drank a ton but they did always have them with meals. I've been nervous to cut bottles since they are still pretty small and don't eat a ton but it seemed time. Bailey kept leaking through her nighttime diaper about every other night so I thought this was a sign that they were having too much liquid at night. The pediatrician also told us it would be easier to cut bottles sooner rather than later. We were only doing a morning and a nighttime bottle anyway, so I decided to just cut them both.

    And the girls did fine. I was preparing myself for an epic battle but I really don't even think they noticed. Easy peesy.

    In other news, I think I am going through a nesting phase because I felt compelled to organize all the girls toys the other day. We've just been randomly throwing them into whatever bin is nearby during clean up time, but I actually went through and organized everything. Now all the little people are in the same bin, the balls are together, the hand puppets are in container, etc. How long will it take for everything to become unorganized again? I would guess it will only take a weekend. But for now look at how good it looks!

    Monday, December 8, 2014

    Making the decision for another baby after twins

    It's inevitable - after your have your twins, or even while you are still pregnant - people will start asking if you are going to have another baby.

    It's sort of like asking someone in the middle of running a marathon if they plan to run another. If you body is aching and you are struggling to keep moving, you want to shout "no!" But if you've caught another wind and you're having a good mile you might think, "definitely!"

    It's sort of the same with kids. Some days you think, "I cannot possibly handle another" and other days you think "let's have a 100 more!" 

    For us I think we knew we would try for a third without question. The real question was when. 

    Brooklyn left, Bailey right. 17 months.
    I've read a lot of twin forums and asked women in my mom's of multiple clubs about the best spacing between kids. The answers seem to be all over the board. A lot of people tell you to wait till they are out of diapers, while others say it's easier to never have a break in diapers and keep them all close in age. 

    There doesn't seem to be a perfect age gap. If the kids are all pretty close in age, it will be a little crazy at first but there will be a strong bond between all. If there is a bigger gap, the older kids will be able to help more with the baby and will be more independent, but the sibling bond may not be as tight. For me personally, I have a brother who is almost three years older and a sister who is six years younger and I am close with both. I think siblings can still be close no matter what the age difference it just depends on what is best for your family. 

    If we had had just a singleton instead of twins, I think we would have tried to space the second kid to be about two years younger. Instead Brooklyn is one minute younger than Bailey. Still, as we thought about it, we decided to use the two year gap as a goal for baby #3. 

    About a month after the girls turned one, we started seriously talking about it. A few initial concerns:

    1. What if we had twins - again?! I was a little worried about having twins again. Don't get me wrong - I love my girls so much and there are so many cool things about being a twin parents and watching them grow up together. But having another set of twins would be insane. 

    I asked my doctor about this possibility. She said while the chance of having twins again does increase after having a set already -- you are, in fact, four times more likely to have twins again -- it's still pretty rare and has never happened in their practice. If you normally have a 1 to 3 percent chance of having twins (without fertility assistance), than you have about a 4 to 12 percent chance of having a second set. Low odds, but still a factor. 

    You have to prepared for it as a possibility, but understand that you will more than likely just have one baby. 

    2. Day care (and diapers) times three! We also had to talk finances. Three kids in daycare is expensive, but we were able to tighten our budgets and felt comfortable being able to afford daycare costs. Think about all the costs associated with a new baby - including your health insurance deductible and out of pocket costs. 

    3. Mentally - can mommy and daddy handle another baby? When I think back on how crazy the first six months were, it makes me pause as I wonder about bringing another newborn home. Feeding two premature babies ever 2 to 3 hours round the clock was difficult. I struggled with breastfeeding and pumping. We were both exhausted. But I feel ready to take on another newborn. From what most of my twin mom friends have told me, having just one infant at a time will be a piece of cake after doing it with twins. (I'm sure there will still be hard moments!)

    Twin belly vs singelton belly, 20 weeks.
    Actually I am really looking forward to the newborn phase. I got 12 weeks paid maternity leave (which is very, very lucky) and the girls will still be going to daycare while I stay home with the baby. I am excited to have some one on one snuggle time with my new little pumpkin. 

    4. Attention wise - will Brooklyn and Bailey be okay with another baby? Two year olds still need lots of mommy and daddy time. I do worry sometimes if there will be enough of me to go around, but I think we will make it work. For Christmas we are buying them baby dolls to play with and trying to prepare them for the new baby coming. They are still too young to understand but I keep telling them they have a new baby sister coming. One tip my cousin gave me that I will use when new baby arrives is to make it a point when you put the baby down for a nap to say in front of your toddler, "Okay baby, mommy is going to play with Brooklyn and Bailey now." The older kid hears all the time "hold on, the baby needs this or that" so it's good to say it the other way too. 

    Cutest ladybugs! 
    5. Pregnancy - is it crazy to be pregnant while running after two toddlers? Honestly, it is sometimes. Both girls are in a clingy stage where they want to be held all the time. I was so tired in the first trimester but still had to kids to take care of, plus work. I go to bed as early as possible and my husband is wonderful about helping with housework and rubbing my back when I need it. I try to be realistic in what I can and can't do. We've eaten more take out than I would normally like but sometimes I just don't have the energy to cook like I normally would. And I do my best about being healthy in this pregnancy for baby #3. I wish I had more time to work out, but I do what I can. I try to get up early in the morning to squeeze in a yoga DVD or a walk on the treadmill but it doesn't happen every day. All you can do is the best you can.  

    I think I was also nervous about having a difficult pregnancy. Twin pregnancies are high risk and mine was no exception. I was put on bed rest at 26 weeks with preterm labor issues, was in and out of the hospital, had to have steroid shots at 30 weeks and a bunch of meds to stop labor, etc. I was lucky to make it to 34 weeks. I had my girls via c-section and they spent 11 days in the NICU. 

    Baby #3 is a girl!
    In comparison, this pregnancy has been a breeze. The morning sickness was hardly there. Sure I was tired in the first trimester but not at all like last time. I feel much less nervous too without having to worry about preterm labor all the time. Ideally I would like to go full term, have a vbac, hold my baby right away, and leave the hospital with my baby and avoid the NICU. Fingers crossed!

    So what did we decide?

    Just to go for it! I got pregnant immediately after stopping birth control and baby #3 (another girl!) is due at the end of April. Brooklyn and Bailey will be almost 23 months. A lot of people thought we were totally nuts for having another so soon. Three kids under age two IS a bit crazy. But we know that and we are ready to take on the challenge!

    Monday, December 1, 2014

    Cleaning old cabbage patch dolls

    I had two twin cabbage patch dolls that I was obsessed with as a kid (good practice right?). My parents kept them in the attic along with some of our other childhood toys, and they made the move safely to my parents new house. My dad pulled them out for my baby shower but they were EXTREMELY dirty and gross. So they've been sitting in storage since then.

    Recently I've been looking into getting the girls dolls for Christmas. Would it be possible to clean my old CPK dolls and give them to a new generation to cherish? I hit Google for some suggestions with mixed results - put them in the washer, NEVER put them in the washer, only spot clean, etc.

    So I did put them in the washer. And I am so glad I did! They look like brand new dolls.
    Before and after washing. Right (dirty), left (clean)

    A few tips:

    • I did pre soak the with oxyclean and detergent for a few hours first. 
    • Use pillowcases for extra protection. I was really nervous about the hair getting destroyed but the pig tails stayed in tact.
    • Speaking of the hair, the original rubber bands were super thin and brittle. I removed them and used some of my own hair ties.
    • Keep an eye on your washer - I stopped it once the spin cycle started because the washer was going crazy.
    • I read online to never put them in the dryer longer than 25 minutes. Well if you skip the spin cycle and your dolls are sopping wet, you'll need longer. I kept checking every 30 minutes but the dolls did about 90 minutes total, and then I let them air dry the rest of the way.
    • Put towels into dryer with your pillow case doll wrapping for extra padding.
    • To clean the face, use an old toothbrush with soft scrub. 
    • Newborn clothing is actually a little big! I had some preemie clothing from the girls but the newborn outfits were cuter. The onesies were way to big but you can't tell with pants over them. I also rolled the pants up at the bottom and they work just fine. 
      CPK at my baby shower (dirty) vs clean dolls!