I posted my last Twin Tuesday yesterday (not a Tuesday, I know. But, there was reasoning behind it). The reason being; Preterm Labor and Bedrest. So this Twin Tuesday will be an Ode to Preterm Labor and Bedrest. (Don't worry I won't break out into song or write a corney poem)
Preterm Labor started for me around 33 weeks. Having twins, this is pretty normal even though my whole pregnancy was deemed healthy over all and the doctor did not foresee this as an issue. Here's what happened. I went into my regular weekly doctor visit (that's right, weekly...with twins and multiples you can expect to see your doc much more) and after getting checked, I was dilated to a 1 and 70% effaced (no I'm not going to explain what that means, I'm bashful). Then the doctor wanted to do a NST (Non-stress test...where they hook you up to monitors to check on your babies and your contractions...pretty standard, nothing to worry about if you ever have one. They're painless, just make sure you're in a comfy position because you'll be there for typically 20 minutes). My contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes and taking my breath away every other contraction. (Fact I didn't know, at the beginning you usually only feel every other contraction...who knew right?)
So, off to the hospital I went to try on a fashionable gown (not!) and get hooked up to an IV, monitors, and prepare myself for a load of meds to stop the contractions. First, blood draw. Second, a steroid shot to help the babies lungs develop (this is called antenatal corticosteroids and is a shot that goes right in your tooshy. This shot is given in 2 doses, one 24 hours after the first and can be given when the gestational age is from 24 to 34 weeks). Third, a shot called Terbutaline (this shot is given in the arm and stings...luckily my nurse put a local anethestic with it to help soothe the sting. It's use for preterm labor is an unlabeled use of the medicine, but it helps relax the uterus and can help delay preterm labor for 24 to 48 hours, allowing the steroid shot to be administered for the babies lungs. It makes you feel super jittery though. My heart beat rapidly and I felt like it would jump out of my chest. My legs and body also shook, like when you're really nervous.) Fourth, I was given a pill to take every 3-6 hours called Nifedipine (This is a calcium blocker, it blocks calcium to the uterus which allows the uterus to relax because the uterus needs calcium to contract. The biggest side effect of this pill was a splitting headache, but it goes away in time). Fifth, lots of fluids (in IV and orally) and no solid foods (pregnant lady of twins starving to death! I love my food and have to eat every 3-4 hours. Making two babies requires a lot of calories, okay?). After all that (which occurs within a half hour or so) it's 24 hours of monitoring and going to the bathroom every 2 hours. Seriously, all that fluid and such a tiny bladder? Yowza!
Luckily, the contractions slowed (but haven't gone away) and I didn't have any cervical change. I went home on bedrest. Oh, bedrest. What mom wouldn't want to take a break and have to lay around all day, right? Err, WRONG. This mama is an active one and after 2 days, trust me, you get tired of laying around all the time. It's been 4 weeks now. Here's what you need to know about bedrest:
1.) Have a plan! If you anticipate bedrest at all (if you're carrying multiples, this is you), then make a list of activities or chores that you can do on bedrest. (Example: Make an online baby book for your other kiddos or make a yearbook..shutterfly is awesome for this. Organize photos. Make a cd for labor when the time does come with relaxing tunes. Write letters to your grandparents. Blog. Read a few books. Have friends visit. Watch a flick with your hubby while he rubs your back. Learn how to knit. Make some handmade presents or address and write birthday cards. The ideas are endless.)
2.) Keep a journal and/or a check off list. It will be good to one day look back at this time and see how awful it really is to have to lay around all day...especially, when we want a break and say, "gosh, it would be nice to be able to just stay in bed all day". It's also important to feel like you're still accomplishing daily tasks. If you're like me you like check lists. (Paid bills: check. Balanced checkbook: check. Emailed: check. Blogged: check. Called my neighbor: check. You get the idea.) It helps to keep track of your days too. Trust me, a month can go by unnoticed unless you keep some sort of record.
3.) Accept and ask for help. Let's face it. You can't be on bedrest without help. Whether you have older kids or not, someone's going to have to help with the cooking and the cleaning. Believe it or not, your hubby can't do it all. You are superwoman, remember? Your husband is already busy with work and doesn't want to come home every day to take care of the stuff you normally do...sure he can do some things but he's going to get burnt out fast if he tries to do it all. No one can replace you. But many people can cover the things you do normally. If you have older kids, like me, your doctor may tell you something you may feel as harsh (but it's true), "You can not be your children's primary caregiver right now." So, grandparents, sisters, brothers, neighbors, church friends will step up and help. You have to ask though. This was hard for me. My mother-in-law helps almost daily and she spends the night througout the week to help me with my kids first thing in the morning. She brings me my meals in bed and helps me up when I need it, all while taking care of my 2 girls. When she needs a break, I call in the troops (my family and friends). It's important to stock up on thank you cards and little treats to hand out or mail...this is another thing you can do while laying there.
4.) Meal plan. Even if you have a singleton start planning meals and prepping freezer meals in your second trimester. So, if bedrest arrises OR after your baby is born you feel overwhelmed and tired (this happens to the best of us) your family won't starve. Start stocking up on essentials in your pantry: easy snacks, pastas, cereals, canned soups, canned veggies, etc. (Not a bad idea to stock up on other essentials too: toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste, kleenex...you get the idea) Accept meals or ask for someone to help by bringing your family a meal once a week. You'd be surprised how many people are willing. My baby shower was a few days before all this preterm labor stuff happened, I asked everyone to bring a package of diapers and a freezer meal. Many people brought gift cards to restaurants (just as good if not better than a freezer meal!). Feel free to ask the same at your shower.
5.) Take time for your family. Being locked up in your room all day can be pretty isolating. Especially, when your kids and hubby spend most of their time in the living and dining room. Make sure that you explain to them that you want time with them too. Play a game of Candy Land on your bed with the family, put a puzzle together, watch a movie and snack on popcorn, talk together, read a book together. Chances are your family members miss you too.
6.) Exercise and take care of your body. Do leg and foot exercises to help prevent blood clots and to help your body in general. Ask your doctor for a list of acceptable exercises you can do. Get a prenatal massage. Chances are there's someone in your area that makes house calls for prenatal massage. Once you have the okay from the doc, give your massage therapist a call. You won't regret it.
7.) Rest when you need it, but try to save majority of your sleep for night time. Insomnia is easy to obtain when you are pregnant. Aching muscles, being kicked in your ribs, having to pee lots, thinking about baby/ies all the time...yep, that would keep just about anybody awake. But the best thing you can do is maintain a regular sleep cycle. Nap during the day, let's be honest you may not get the chance to when babies arrive. But make sure you keep on track with sleeping mostly at night.
8.) Keep tabs on your emotions. It's easy to get depressed or feel really down on bedrest. Isolation. Feeling helpless. Having control over nothing. We all feel it. It's normal. Just don't let it get in the way of remembering the reason why you are on bedrest. You are protecting your babies and giving them the best chance they have to develop and have healthy bodies. Babies born prior to 37 weeks can have a hard time breathing on their own, may not be able to nurse, may have long term problems like hearing and sight difficulties. Taking it easy is not an easy or selfish thing. It's giving your babies a chance to have the healthiest start possible. If you feel really depressed, let your doctor and spouse know. It's important to communicate your emotions.
I'm sure there's lots of other stuff to know, but I think I've said enough. After a month of bedrest and prescriptions and being in and out of the hospital 4 times with preterm labor, I've made it to week 37 today. My twins are officially full term. It's been hard, but totally worth it. Now, can somebody tell them it's okay to come out?