Monday, June 22, 2015

Nesting, with a twist.

Welcome to week 18 friends! My new week starts each week on Thursday, so I'm right between 18 and 19 today. This screen shot is from an app called The Bump, and it's what I look at each week to see how we're all progressing.

Although this app is designed to track sizes for singleton pregnancies, it is still accurate for us at this point. Dr. J tells us that the babies will follow the same growth patterns as a singleton right up until about 24 weeks. At this point though, everything changes! At 24 weeks the growth of our babies little bodies will slow quite dramatically, however on the inside a whole different story is taking place. The development of the babies internal organs and their functions will then kick into overdrive in preparation for their early entry into the world. Their little lungs will be almost fully developed by 28 weeks, and reflexes like sucking, which develop in a singleton right up until nearly 40 weeks will be achieved much more quickly in our little peanuts.

With evidence like this of such a grand and purposeful design, I am amazed that anyone could still believe in the randomness of life. Personally, I have no doubt that the hand of our Loving Creator is behind this amazing development and I am grateful every day for His hand guiding the lives of these babies already.

And here's the soon to be momma at 18 weeks. A lot bigger than a sweet potato, no? Notice the belly button? I was a solid "innie" pre-pregnancy, but there's no doubt that things have turned inside out, so to speak.

Okay, on to the nest! We settled on soft and lovely neutral colors for the nursery, not knowing whether we'd be preparing the nest for boys, girls, or a combo pack. The colors are simple, soft grey and teal. These darling receiving blankets from Carters are the first thing I purchased for the wee ones, and we've built the rest of the room around them.

Mom will be sewing curtains for the room one we settle on a nice teal and white fabric and we'll  be painting only one wall in the nursery grey, leaving the rest bright white. Who knew grey could be such a tough color to choose!

We selected mini cribs made by Babyletto in a soft teal. Not only do we love the color, but these mini cribs will allow us to fit all four in the nursery, an impossibility with full size cribs.

Coming from a long tradition of knitters I decided that I would knit each baby a blanket in a different shade of grey. Sadly, though I inherited my Mom and Grandma Mouse's love of knitting, the talent for it seems to have skipped a generation. Therefore, always a realist, I knew my only chance for success would be in using only the simplest of patterns, thereby reducing the chances of my all to frequent errors. 

The super easy pattern I found came from Lion Brand, and has mostly been a success so far, with a few minor hiccups that all my loved ones will say are unnoticeable. It is the perfect pattern for the mediocre knitter who finds her already suspect skills further hampered by the dreaded Pregnancy Brain. Yes, it's a real thing. I'm klutzier than ever and can't hold a thought for ten consecutive seconds! The entire pattern is worked in stockinette stitch so it doesn't require a vast amount of concentration, obviously a must for any project I take on at this point.

So to this point, I suppose this all sounds like typical mom-to-be nesting patterns, with nothing at all out of the ordinary. Where, you might ask, is the aforementioned "twist". Well, the "twist", friends, is this guy, The Magnificent Andrew. Looks a bit like an Evil Genius, doesn't he?

He has been an absolute whirlwind of activity these last couple months, making small repairs and large, and spending a lot of time on baby preparations. I will show you the full scope of his work in another post, but it has been amazing!

Frankly, none of the work has been a surprise to me. He adores working with his hands and can learn how to master nearly any project in short order once he sets his mind to it.

What I was not expecting him to set his mind to, was knitting! Yes, that's right. Knitting. Tearing down a wall one minute, needles in hand the next. I caught him staring at me one day as I was knitting, and he made the comment "I bet I could do that". "I bet you could too", responded I, and thus began the adventure. He has been knitting a practice piece, and I have to admit it kind of cracks me up sitting side by side on the couch with our knitting. And don't tell Andy I said this, but his yarn tension after two lessons was better than mine after years and years of practice.

Doesn't he look pleased with himself? This guy never ceases to amaze me. He's going to be a super dad.

Whew! I guess that's all for now. I try to keep it short and sweet, but I guess there was a lot to cover today. Love and blessings to you all, and much gratitude for your continued prayers.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Making Four People is Hard!!!

You guys, I'm tired! My body is working overtime these days. Andy and I are still getting out for walks but any activity tends to wipe me out for hours after.

We had a good ultrasound Monday, and figured out why my ribs hurt all the time. Baby C is jamming my organs up into my right rib cage. Ouch! On the plus side, I now have my Official Mom Guilt Trip for Baby C. I can picture it already. "I allowed my organs to be jammed into my ribcage for you and you can't even clean your room for your mother!?!?" I can use this in countless situations I'm sure. For the record, the Official Mom Guilt Trip of my childhood was smoking, though it was not as versatile as the rib thing. Any time I was doing something perceived as unhealthy, mom would say "When i found out I was pregnant with you I gave  up smoking so that you could have a healthy life. Don't throw away my sacrifice now." It may not have been quite that dramatic, but it's how i remember it, right mom?

Here are the little blessings at 17 weeks. It was a quick check, just heartbeats and gender confirmation, and once again Baby D was our problem child, not cooperating for the tech. In the end though, everybody turned out to be just what we were told at 15 weeks, no body parts added or deleted since the last visit!

This weekend Andy and I headed to Milwaukee for the wedding of one of his high school friends. We had a great time and it was so fun to catch up with some of Andy's friends that I hadn't seen for a while, and to meet some for the first time. I was shocked that I lasted until eleven, which was midnight our time, and definitely a record for me in the last few months!

On our way back Sunday we made the traditional stop at Mars Cheese Castle. If you ever find yourself on the stretch of highway between Chicago and Milwaukee this is a stop not to be missed! I have been coming here since I was a kid, though it has grown and changed a lot since then.

We purposely held off on breakfast so that we could polish off an Apple Kringle in the car. It we gooey and delicious and worth the wait. We had about three quarters of it gone before we hit the Wisconsin/Illinois border a few miles away!

Another goodie we always grab at Mars are cheese curds. These didn't even last long enough to photograph, but I promise they were amazing. We also got dark chocolate seafoam, which is my second favorite sweet in the whole world. My first is Rice Crispy Treats, which I almost never make because I can't seem to eat less than half a batch in one sitting. We picked up a small bag of Highlander Grog coffee made by Door County Coffee which is my favorite coffee ever. After it's brews the whole house smells mapely delicious for hours! Last, we found Halloumi cheese. This is a cheese Andy and I discovered vacationing in Cyprus. We liked it so much that we ended up eating it with every single meal, including breakfast! It has a high melting point so it is usually served grilled or fried. We have been looking for it ever since we got back from vacation but haven't found it until now. We're saving it to make for a family visit in a few weeks. You're in for a treat, Mary, Rob, Mike, Danielle, Dan and Kelsey!

I'll close with my 17 week belly pic. This week I hit the twenty pound weight gain mark. I'm trying my best to grow some fat babies!

As always, thank you all for you're prayers and support. They mean everything to us.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Challenge Accepted!

My multiples book puts a lot of focus on weight and calories during pregnancy. For someone who began pregnancy at an average weight, the weight gain recommendation is 70-80 pounds, with at least 45 of those pounds gained during the first 20 weeks. Since I am up only 16 pounds through 16 weeks, I am a bit behind the goal. My doctor, however, says this book must be taken with a grain of salt as it was written by a nutritionist rather than a Perinatologist. He is not concerned about the weight gain as long as the babies are growing appropriately.

The calorie recommendation from the book (are you sitting down?) is 4,500 calories per day! You guys, I LOVE to eat. In some circles my appetite is legendary. I rarely leave food on my plate. For me, that feeling of fullness when eating is when things are just starting to get good, rather than a sign to stop eating. However, this is a lot of calories, even for me! Thankfully, every year at about this time, my beloved Grand Rapids sends a food bonanza our way. It was particularly timely this year.

Among the many fabulous things to do all year in the 616, Festival of the Arts is my favorite. It is the largest all volunteer arts festival in the country and has been going strong for 46 years! The festival features art exhibits, hands on art for kids, craft shows and art competitions.

The Festival centers around the main stage at the Calder, however there are six additional stages scattered throughout, featuring music, plays, dance, story telling, and performance art.

More importantly though, it is a sea of food! The booths are all run by local churches and non-profits, and for many, Festival is their primary fundraiser for the year. What better place to pack in a quick 4,500?

Everyone cooks on-site, so the smells are absolutely amazing!

In the past I have very carefully reviewed the program to be very sure of what I wanted to eat. This year however, I had license to eat it all so I threw caution to the wind and dove right in with a chicken on a skewer and egg roll from the Our Lady of LaVang booth.

Next, on to the Chinese Association of West Michigan for Cream Cheese Rangoon.

And it wouldn't be Festival without a giant cone of Hudsonville mint chocolate chip ice cream from Georgetown United Methodist Church!

Last, and my absolute favorite discovery this year was the Gourmet Apple Grilled Cheese with chips from Journey of Faith. It was amazing! I've never thought to put apple on a grilled cheese before, but I think I'll be doing it in the future.

I did skip the Elephant Ears from the Northview Athletic Boosters, usually a must-eat, however this was only because I ate an Elephant Ear the size of my head at the Whitecaps game the night before!

Another great year at Festival, and so fun to eat guilt-free!

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Sunday, June 7, 2015


Hi all, and welcome to Week 16 (a few days late). LORD willing, this is the halfway point for us! I'll post weeks 15 and 16 belly shots together for you and let you be the judge, but let me assure you, there is a lot happening this week. I can feel my body stretching, tugging, moving and changing. My hips, back and ribs are extra sore this week and I've been really achy and cramping. Not to worry though. I called and spoke with Doc J. personally, and he assures me that it's all part of the joys of carrying quads!

The wild thing is, I only gained a pound in the last week!

The book When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads is basically the standard text for anyone going through this. I wanted to share with you some pregnancy milestones from the book so you can better track where we are.

Weeks 20 - 24: The border of viability

Weeks 25 - 28: Very early preterm for multiples

Weeks 29 - 32: Early preterm for multiples

Once we get to week 28 we can breathe a little easier. Once we get to week 30 we can breathe a LOT easier. I read somewhere that each day after Week 30 generally means three days less in the NICU per baby.

30 weeks is the average for quad delivery, but 32 weeks would be amazing for us! Please pray that my body can hold these little ones as close to 32 weeks as possible.

That's it for now. I have a lot more to share, but for now I'm off to church!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Mouse, an Anniversary and Four Genders.

You guys, week fifteen has been an eventful one!

A big note of praise that my constant nausea is now only very occasional nausea. Unfortunately, now I have constant rib pain and heartburn, but I think that both are preferable to feeling like I'm going to yak up my guts every waking minute!

This week mom and I made the trip to Livonia to visit my maternal Grandma, known always and forever as "The Mouse". It was a great visit and a great meal at The Mouse's favorite burger joint. Mouse raved about my bump and how cute it was, which is a welcome compliment to one who is feeling unsure and uncomfortable in her new and ever changing shape. It was a ton of fun to see how excited she is for us.

Yesterday, June 1, 2015 we had our fifteen week ultrasound. Starting with the second trimesters, the crown to rump measurements are replaced by head, abdomen and femur measurements. All babies are measuring ahead of their gestational age, which is fantastic news for us all!

Baby A - Measuring 16+2 weeks
Baby B - Measuring 16 weeks
Baby C - Measuring 16 weeks
Baby D - Measuring 15+6 weeks

These measurements put all the babies above the 94th percentile!

The ultrasound tech prepared us for the possibility that we would not leave knowing all the genders, and sure enough, right out of the gate, Baby A was totally uncooperative. She moved on to B and C who graciously struck perfect poses for us and gave the tech a clear view to get to know them better. She swung back around to Baby A, who, shamed by the siblings good behavior, was at last ready to cooperate. Moving on to Baby D we seemed to have finally hit a true challenge. The tiny troublemaker was not only turned away, but curled tight. The tech tried everything in her power, jabbing and jostling my belly (including my extremely full bladder) trying to get the little stinker to cooperate, but to no avail. I was coming close to accepting the idea that we may have to wait another two weeks for the Baby D gender reveal, but the tech was on a mission. She was not about to be defeated by a human the size of a navel orange! Ten minutes later, we had our answer. For now they will remain Baby A, B, C and D, but I promise, if you keep checking in, you will know soon who is who. For now, feel free to guess!

And here is what four babies the size of navel oranges look like from the outside. 

I'm not generally into skin shots, however for reasons purely of vanity, I thought I'd throw one up here before my belly is covered in stretch marks.

Last, to top off an absolutely Cloud 9 kind of day, Super Hubs and I celebrated our two year wedding anniversary Monday! What a lot of twists and turns our lives have taken since then. I can assure you, these two had no idea what they were in for!

I was exhausted last night since my day had contained both a doctor visit and a grocery trip. Yes, seriously, a trip to the grocery makes me want to sleep for several hours. But My Love came home from the office with a beautiful orchid plant, a card and an invitation to dinner. It was too much to resist. On a side note, has anyone else noticed that we often seem marry our polar opposite? I never seem to stop talking, while Andy often has little to say. As a result, he rarely has to apologize for words blurted out in haste, unlike me other people I could mention. Anyway, all that to say that while Andy is often quiet in conversation, every time he hands me a card he knocks it out of the park! It may be partly the hormones raging through me, but I got halfway through his card and teared up.

Back to the story. I got really ambitious and decided we should walk downtown for dinner, only about a fifteen minute walk, but that has become a big deal for me. There is a restaurant there called Hop Cat, where we have tried to eat on at least four other occasions, but my rumbling stomach was always deterred by the multi-hour wait. We decided to give it a try again, hoping that a Monday night would be slow. As a backup, we settled on Stella's, which GQ Magazine has deemed as home of the best burger in America. Not bad at all for our second choice, and we were confident that either restaurant would be a win!

So we walk into Hop Cat, which was jam packed, even on a Monday, but we were amazed to be shown straight to a table! And let me assure you, not only did it live up to the hype, but was well worth waiting a year to experience. We split the pretzel appetizer and each ordered the five cheese grilled cheese with crack fries for our entrees. It was all so good, and really the perfect end to a perfect day. 

P.S. That is Andy's plate of fries in front of me...I didn't leave a scrap of food on mine!

As always, thank you all for your continued prayers and support on our journey. We appreciate every one!

Dogs and Hormones.

Apparently Andy and I feel the need to do things big, because in addition to the four babies we are looking forward to welcoming home, this little house already contains four dogs.

Three of the dogs are not concerned in the least about my pregnancy. Their rigorous daily routines of eat, sleep, poo, bark, remain blissfully undisturbed.

And then there's Howard. Howard is my guy. I can't get enough of him. I adopted him back in 2008 and I've been in love ever since. To be honest, Howard is a breeders nightmare. His eyes are buggy, even for a chihuahua, and they are constantly dripping. When he is sleepy, one of his ears droops down and he can't hold it up no matter how he tries. As a puppy he suffered a broken leg which healed improperly. As a result his inner leg bone stopped growing while the outer continued as normal. By the time I adopted him he was completely bow legged in one of his front legs. He has badly luxating patellas in both rear legs which cause them to look wobbly when he walks. And to complete the package, he has a buck tooth. Yes, an actual buck tooth. His features all conspire to make him look really simple. My mom says that Howard looks like a child's drawing of a dog. To me, he's a perfectly gorgeous creature.

Howard is only four pounds, so with his teeny tiny bladder he needs to go outside pretty frequently to empty. Thankfully, he is a champ at alerting us when it's time. He sits in front of one of us and if we don't get the hint he'll let out a small whine. We then ask him if he needs to go outside, and if he does, he barks once and heads for the door. Easy peasy, right?

Our happy routine was disturbed right about the same time my morning sickness began. In the space of a couple days, we caught him urinating in odd locations around the house three times. After doing some research I learned that this reaction was one common in dogs reacting to the scent of hormones in their pregnant humans. It was suggested that we reinforce his training and reward proper behavior.

We began confining Howard to a small area of the living room, taking him out for a ton of bathroom breaks, and praising him like he'd just won an Oscar every time he peed outside. In a few days, the problem seemed to have been solved.

Only to be replaced by a new problem. Thanks to a ton of training by Andy "Chihuahua Whisperer" Hubs, Howard has a good sense of his place in the house. It helps that he is a very submissive beast by nature. He is very patient even when Lillian decides to lay right on top of him for a nap!

In the last few weeks though, he has become mega protective of the babies and me! He will often station himself at my feet and refuse to budge. At the smallest noise he will bark like a maniac and run back and forth in front of me.

So for our sweet Howard Brown-Sauce, the freedom following TinkleGate was short lived. He gets one warning at a bark, then gets moved to a bed across the room, away from me. The next bark puts him on time out in his kennel.

The discipline is working. Howard Lee is remembering who is in charge, and that it's not him.

It is comforting to know however, that should anyone ever try to harm our babies, they will have to deal with four pounds of fury, albeit incredibly cute fury!