Saturday, April 26, 2014

Hanging around... at the hospital and home

These little guys are definitely keeping us up at night and keeping us on our toes 
with all their squeaks and squaks and cries and poops...

But we are head over heels in love.  

Not sure when I'll be able to venture out of the house with them on my own
(so far we've only gone to the doctor, the lab, and Target parking lot with help), 
and I know I may be getting the hang of this for the next month or so...

so until then, here are people who have visited us

Auntie D (Victoria... we call each other Dana for some reason) 
cannot wait to come back to visit from Houston.  
And Benji and Zachy can't wait to see her again!
Auntie "D" with Zachy
 I love seeing my dad with my sons.
Yet-to-be-named Pops with his grandsons
 The Phillips girls have had lots of practice with newborns!
Miss Ellie Phillips holding Benji

Big girl Emmy Phillips holding Benji

Miss Gracie Goo holding Zachy

Little lady!

Emmy and Zachy

Big girls... the boys' neighbors :)

Sleepy daddy and Benji

Precious Z just hanging out

B loves his Wubbanub

One week birthday!

Amazed that they fit inside my belly!

First bath!

They didn't appreciate the bath :(


B loves his hands up by his head

Poor Zachy has been having lots of tummy troubles, so please be praying for him!  He's up a lot at night and just seems really uncomfortable.  We're wondering if it's the formula I'm having to supplement with.  They have their circumcisions on Monday, so I will talk to the doctor then.

We're also having lots of trouble getting the hang of nursing.  I'm pumping and bottle feeding them a lot since it takes them so long to latch and often don't even latch at all.  Huge learning curve!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Welcome Benjamin and Zachary! (Birth Story)

We left the house last Monday morning for my scheduled induction at noon, April 14th.  We were so excited to see what came of these 3 little embryos.  

But, little did we know that the induction would last 48 hours, with 42 of those hours in active labor that stalled, sadly at 8 cms dilated.  My uterus wore out, which can happen with twins, and I just simply stopped contracting.  We started with Cervidil gel, which got my contractions coming on pretty strong, but only got me to a 3.  My water broke around 9am Tuesday am, and my doctor really broke it (just a trickle before then) at 1pm.  Then the contractions really picked up.  I had a bad experience with my epidural--mainly my body not loving the drugs and having several bad reactions.  I would drop my blood pressure, feel like I was passing out, and then need meds to bring it back up.  I got the shakes pretty horrendously, too.  As well as TERRIBLE itchy skin.  I have some scabs on my face and back from scratching.  I kept up a pretty positive attitude throughout, hitting a wall of emotion a couple of times, but then holding onto hope.  

A 4 am picture I took, thinking delivery was just around the corner.  Had a foley catheter placed recently before this (to continuously drain urine), which was a huge setback and bother in my mind.  Was trying to choose to have a happy heart :)
By early Wednesday am at 5:30, I had finally reached an 8.  I was so excited and had my mom come asap.  But I stayed at an 8 for the next 3 hours.  Then my contractions completely stopped. We tried shutting off the Pitocin and giving my body a break then restarting it slowly, which can sometimes work, but no such luck.  I was so sad and frustrated and super exhausted.  Andy and I had both gotten a total of 4-6 hrs of sleep over the past 2 days.  I finally made my peace--or God gave me peace--with getting a c-section, and my dear friend Lisa texted me all the way from Indonesia at just the right time when I was crying and emotional over what was happening.  She had a similar first labor experience and had a lot of wisdom and encouragement for me. We made the call around noon/1ish Wednesday to go ahead with surgery.

About to go into surgery!

One thing that was awesome was the boys' heartrates were steady and stable throughout this whole time.  They were comfy in there :) and had no issues with the long labor.  Getting their heartrates on the monitor for 2 days straight was one of the most annoying things about the stay.  They were moving around the whole time but you have to also be monitored the whole time.  I also had an internal contraction monitor in towards the end.  I made a comment that this was an extremely medicalized birth--I never imagined this for me!  Always pictured laboring naturally and having a midwife, etc.  Oh well, I can't regret anymore.  

To make a long story longer :)  I went to the OR around 2 pm to get prepped, and Andy joined me 15 minutes later.  Being numbed from shoulders to toes is a very very weird feeling.  I had already had those blood pressure/passing out bouts 4 times and was worried about it happening when I was on the table, but thankfully it didn't.  I was ready to meet my sweet boys.  My best friend and most favorite man in the world sat at my right side holding my hand and my new friend, Jerry the Certified Nurse Anesthetist (who we loved) sat at my right side and held that hand.  So sweet.  My doctor was always planning on delivering this special pair, so she was there to do the surgery, as well as another doctor at her side for help.  Everyone in the room was so positive and nice, it was a good environment.  

Benjamin Andrew Salsky made his debut into the world 
at 2:32 pm on Wednesday, April 16th!
His little head was in the birth canal for quite sometime, so it took a few yanks to get him out, but once he was out, he cried right away!  What a surreal experience.  He had (still has) a big head of dark brown hair, and Andy and I were in tears as soon as we heard his cry.  A moment I'll never forget.  Andy was whisked away to cut the cord (already cut at the table, but he trimmed it up) and see his weight etc.
Benjamin Andrew

Benjamin Andrew
He weighed 6 pounds, 5 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long.

Zachary Ryan Salsky made his debut into the world 
at 2:34 pm on Wednesday, April 16th!
As soon as his brother was out, Zachary decided to take advantage of all the extra room and stretched his little body out like nobody's business.  That's why it took them 2 minutes for his exit.  I got a bruise on my tummy from them having to yank and pull.  Once he was out, he let out a wail, too, and we knew he was healthy.  So emotional.  His little head was covered with strawberry blonde hair!

Zachary Ryan
He weighed 6 pounds, 9 ounces and was 20 inches long.

Brothers for life.

First time to meet my babes. 
Sharing secrets already.

It took about 20 minutes to suture me up, so Andy was able to sit in the recovery room with just the boys to himself that time.  He bonded for life with them and fell deep in love.  He is such a good daddy.
New daddy in the recovery room.
I unfortunately began to have another reaction just as they finished suturing, and it took a good 30 minutes to stop the blood pressure from dropping and get my uncontrollable shakes to go away. It took 3 doses of Demerol (a muscle relaxant) to stop them, so then for the next hour I was high as a kite.  I couldn't really hold the boys, but my family came back one at a time, and everyone was able to meet them.  Benjamin had a low blood sugar, so he needed an ounce of formula, which somehow I managed to give him?  I can't remember much of that time!  Sad.
First family photo

Loving on Zachy

SO different!  Zachy on left, Benji on right.

We went up to post partum about 2 1/2 hrs later.  That first night was tough.  The pain and soreness from the surgery combined with the loopiness of meds and just 2 new babies in the family was a lot!  They slept in the nursery during the nights while we were in the hospital, which was helpful, but still you don't get much sleep!  But our overall experience was good. We had a few nurses that we didn't care for, but we loved everyone else.  

We left the hospital on Easter Sunday, April 20th.  Both boys recovered quickly from jaundice by going under the lights Saturday night and getting supplemented with formula to bulk up their weights.  I was emotional about that.  I've taken care of plenty of jaundiced babies and know it's relatively normal and common, but when it's your baby who is sick, it's hard to handle.  We were so thankful they only needed 12 hrs of phototherapy.

And so it begins!

We are absolutely in love with these miracles.  Life will take some getting used to.  My main role for the next month or so is to nurse and pump.  What a change in lifestyle!  One you can never fully prepare for--especially the change in sleep, but they are worth it.  

Pray for us as we adjust.  My mom is an angel and such a help.  Our friends are also angels in bringing meals, running to the store, etc.  

I'll post again and share the meanings and significances of their names and more about a day in the life.  Also, my pics are slow to load, so I'll post more. The boys get circumcised next week--pray for them and us!  

I'm also recovering ok, but slowly.  In addition to the surgery recovery, I was also pumped with liters upon liters of fluids, which are very slowly leaving my body.  I seriously look like the Michelin man and have only lost a few pounds of weight post delivery.  Not your typical scenario.  I'm pretty self-conscious about it, but I should be back to normal in 2-4 weeks, so everyone says.  I have to keep my feet propped.  I also realized that I just don't like drugs!  I can't take the Percocet for pain because I get so loopy.  So I'm just on ibuprofen.  The pain isn't too bad, though.  

Love you all!
Me and Zachy post feed.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Nursery: A Work in Progress

I'm really loving our nursery.  Sometimes I sit in the glider (thanks to Andy's mom, Lyn, for the gorgeous Babies 'R Us glider!) and just smile.  I am in awe that we have a nursery!  Ahhh!  

This room was already painted an icy blue that we did in 2012, so we kept it blue for the boys.  The cribs are Graco and both convert into toddler beds and then eventually you can use the back as headboards for full beds.  

The "mobile" hanging in between the cribs was my idea.  I wish I had taken a better shot--the poufs are hanging by fishing line from an embroidery hoop.  The hoops is then held up by 4 pieces of twine and tacked into the wall.  It's cool because the poufs look like they're hanging in midair since the fishing line is clear.  I like it :) 

I LOVE the curtains.  My mom made them with beautiful fabric from Hobby Lobby.  They really pull all the colors of the room together.

I was quite proud of myself for putting the Ikea expedit shelves togethers, 
and Andy handily hung them on the wall.  

The hanging Chinese lantern thing is from Land of Nod.  It's just whimsical and cute.
That heavy duty trash can is from my parents a la Costco.  It has a sensor, so you just have to wave your hand over it to open up, and it closes automatically.  I have to keep Andy away because he's going to run the batteries out by pretending he's a magician all the time!  :)

I love those printables I found online somewhere.  I had originally planned to hang the whole alphabet, but after seeing that "B is for Ballerina", "G is for Gown", and "H is for High heels"... I opted to stop at "F is for Fan".  I'm all for not pigeon holing the boys into roles, but come on.  They're boys.  So then I printed out numbers 1-7 to match the 7 letters and 3 Bible verses.  
Here's a closer up shot:

My mom sewed those pillows with the leftover fabric from the curtains.  So talented, that lady!

One of the last things we need to do is find frames for these BEAUTIFUL ink and watercolor prints that I commissioned a girl in our church to do for us.  I love animals and had the idea last year of mama animals with her 2 babies.  Andy gets the lion one, but I'm the mama in the other 3 ;)
Aren't they amazing?!
They'll go over the cribs in a collage with the B and Z letters.

Overall I'm very happy with how it turned out, especially since Andy and I are hardly DIY-ers.  
Now, all it needs is 2 little boys to fill it up!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

37 weeks

Sorry for the poor quality photo!
37 weeks + 1 day
40 Week Due Date: April 28th - But my induction is scheduled for next Monday morning, April 14th.
Weight Gain:  I gained another 3 pounds, bringing my total weight gain up to 40 pounds for this pregnancy.  Considering I'm carrying at least 12 pounds of baby, 2 placentas, and a whole lot of blood and extra fluids, I'm thinking that I will lose at least half of it after they're delivered.  Or at least I'm hoping that.  I'm just so short that carrying around this extra weight is tiring!
How I Am Feeling: Ok, so I'm not feeling so great these days.  My swollen fingers and feet are actually really painful.  My right hand/fingers get tingly and go numb from time to time throughout the day. especially when I use them.  I wake up not able to bend any of my fingers, and when I get out of bed my feet are in a lot of pain.  I'm just feeling large over all and it's uncomfortable.  I think I had false labor Sunday night, and I got really excited about it.  But things slowed down once I got home church and was getting ready for bed.  I haven't felt cramping since then.  My membranes were successfully stripped on Monday afternoon, but nothing happened after that, despite a walk and drinking Balsamic Vinegar.  Here are some photos of my lovely hands and feet:
They've been worse than this!
It's hard to tell (maybe) how swollen they are, but believe me...

Movement: They are still squirming around and loving the Lemonberry slushes I've been getting from Sonic during happy hour the past 2 days :)
Sleeping: Sleeping is tough.  It's very hard to turn sides in bed and inevitably I fall asleep on a hand or with my wrist bent, only to wake up with it numb and in then in pain!  Oy vey!
Clothing:  Still the same, but I'm managing to find some outfits that work.  Some of my maternity shirts aren't fully covering my belly!  Here is evidence:
I kept thinking, #shouldibeembarrassed as I was out for a walk :)

Activity:  I have been out for a walk everyday for the past week.  These past few days, I was hoping that it would get labor going, since I had my membranes stripped yesterday, but there has been no action whatsoever.  I went for a longer walk today, and all it did was send me literally waddling home in a panic because I had to go to the bathroom so bad.  I'm sure I looked ridiculous!  :)
Most Looking Forward To: Labor to start--or my induction!  I really didn't want to get to the place of needing an induction... just because I've heard horror stories and also just the worry that if I don't progress, then they go to Pitocin, then it's really painful, then I get an epidural, then their heart rates might drop, then they might tell me I need an "emergency c-section"... I just know it can be a slippery slope.  My doctor will start out slow, with Cervidil gel... so I'm praying that if we get to Monday, that the gel is all that I'll need!  Trying to trust the Lord.  
Thankful For:  The fact that these boys have made it to full term!  What a miracle!  (I guess bedrest worked?)  As much discomfort I am in, I am so thankful that they will be full-sized little humans.  No NICU, in Jesus' name.  No worries about their lungs.  They can come whenever they want!  I never thought I'd get to 37 weeks.  

Andy and I went out for dinner last Saturday night--thinking it would be our last childless date night!  But I think we'll have to plan for another one this weekend.  Then we'll really live it up!  

Sunday, April 6, 2014

On grieving

I realize it's an interesting post that I write today, as I'm eagerly anticipating the arrival of our little miracles, but I'm realizing that I am still grieving the loss of "what could have been" at times.  I ultimately have peace in my heart, but I still grieve.

I passed a couple walking out of the doctor's office a few weeks ago.  The wife was crying, and the husband looked somber and was rubbing her back.  They could have been crying about anything, but I just had this feeling that they either just had a miscarriage or were told that they needed to see a fertility specialist.  My heart broke for them.  I wanted to tell them it would be ok and that they're not alone.  In this small moment of time, I realized again the privilege it is that I'm carrying twins in my womb.  This was not meant to be - by any scientific means - and if it weren't for the generosity of my father (and Father), we may still be waiting for our Gabriel...

My marriage with Andy is so sweet. I love our deep friendship, and our home is filled with laughter everyday, no matter what we're going through.  So, we have even come to a place where we can laugh at our situation.  The irony and the ridiculousness of it all.  That he is missing a small but extremely important reproductive part.  We can laugh!  We can tease!  But there is still grieving.

Throughout this pregnancy, I have learned here and there how to live in the moment and be thankful for what we have--not looking to the future and asking How? or What if? or Will we?  But there are still times that I think of the other children we want and I just get sad.  Why did this happen to us?  I wish we could just plan when we want our next child and go get pregnant.  I love adoption, but I want to choose it out of an overflow of our hearts' desire, not out of obligation.  (and financially, adoption is still a pricey option)

Jesus doesn't push me away in my grief.  He doesn't say, "We've already been over this.  Why are you still sad?"  Sometimes He is the only One who understands.  When I hear of people getting pregnant again, and I am happy but have to run to the secret place to meet with God, He doesn't scold me.  He is the most patient, most understanding Father.

I've started reading the sequel to a book called Hinds Feet on High Places, which has been very influential and impactful to me in my walk with God.  This book is called Mountains of Spices (by Hannah Hurnard), and it's "an allegory about human weaknesses and strengths comparing the spices in Song of Solomon to the fruits of the Spirit".  Yesterday morning I read a part in the chapter on Joy that really struck me.  I have since written the words down in my journal twice.  I believe that it was God's way of encouraging me in this trial that we're still in...  the trial of life.  Infertility will never leave us.  We will never solve this problem.  I will always carry that in my heart--not in an unhealthy way, but just as a cross I am to bear.  We can't escape it.  But will I let it change me for His glory?  Will I choose joy on the path of suffering?

The main character in this book is named Grace and Glory after she was taken to the high places by the Shepherd in the first book.  On the journey to the high places, she learned much about God's ways and was transformed from "Much Afraid" into "Grace and Glory".  She was given a new name and now a new outlook on life.  In this chapter on Joy, the Shepherd is showing Grace and Glory the mountain where the camphire bushes grow.  "Before the perfumed oil could be produced by the plant, the ground around the bushes needed to be manured with a bitter substance which the roots of the bushes drew in from the soil and changed into the oil of gladness. There were certain seasons when [the Shepherd's] workmen treated the soil in this way, just before the heavy winter rains and snows began when  everything on the bushes faded and fell to the ground and the branches were left completely bare." (pg. 66).

Grace and Glory thought this was so sad and didn't understand why the beautiful fruit would have to endure bitterness and death.  The Shepherd responded with a song that explained why.  Grace and Glory then understood, remembering the hard journey she took to the high places, which in turn gave her the greatest joy and she came to know the King.  She responds:

"If other nights of sorrow must come to me," she said to herself, "I can never fear nor dread them again, for I know they are only the seasons when the camphire bushes of the King are prepared and made ready to produce the oil of gladness.  Oh, how lovely His thoughts and HIs plans are, how great is His wonderful goodness and loving-kindness.  His ways of grace past finding out!  Oh, that I may always react to sorrow in such a way that it will be overcome and be changed into His joy." (pg. 68)

The Shepherd's response is what has been impacting my heart majorly these past couple of days:

"There is absolutely no experience, however terrible, or heartbreaking, or unjust, or cruel, or evil, which you can meet i the course of your earthly life, that can harm you if you will but let Me teach you how to accept it with joy; and to react to it triumphantly as I did Myself, with love and forgiveness and with willingness to bear the results of wrong done by others.  Every trial, every test, every difficulty and seemingly wrong experience through which you may have to pass, is only another opportunity granted to you of conquering an evil thing and bring out of it something to the lasting praise and glory of God.

You sons and daughters of Adam, in all your suffering and sorrow, are the most privileged of all beings, for you are to be perfected through suffering and to become the sons and daughters of God with His power to overcome evil with good.  If only you realized your destiny, how you would rejoice at every experience of trial and tribulation, and even in the persecution which comes your way.  You would 'count it all joy.'  You would take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions and distresses for Christ's sake 'for when you are weak, then you learn how to be made strong.'"  (page 70, 71)

So, again, I'm learning that we become like Him in our death.  That I should count my sufferings and trials as joy because He is giving me opportunities to walk as He walked and become more like Him.  In my weaknesses, He is strong.  My weaknesses may become my greatest strengths, somehow.

Our little boys will remind me again and again and again that God makes beauty out of ashes.  I will still grieve our infertility, but I believe that this trial will continue to be made into joy.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Picture update

This is me at 36 weeks + 3 days

Andy and my second cousin Hadley's baby boy Cabot!

Cabot is so precious.
Some of my dad's family was in town for work last week, and we got to meet this little bug.

I don't even look pregnant here!  Ha.  My big belly was in the hole of the inner tube.
It felt SO nice to float in the water and soak up the sun.

Me with Andrea and Courtney at the Gilbert Farmer's Market last Saturday.  We enjoy some amazingly delicious waffles from a food truck I've been stalking.  It was the most public I've been in awhile, and I endured a lot of stares and questions of when I was due.  :)

Baby B from the ultrasound yesterday

profile of Baby B