Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Final Countdown,

Well, we've not only hit 28 weeks, but blown past it by three days! The babies will be ready to meet us soon. Our goal remains 32 weeks, which would give me just under another month with the little ones in my belly.

I've updated my belly progress at The Quad Bod page, but here's another view. Still no stretch marks, but at this rate they can't be far away.

I've had a couple changes this week as well. First, the swelling in my legs returned full force. It's painful and makes it hard for me to walk. Actually, it forces me to do something of a waddle. Not particularly gracefully looking, but it gets me from A to B. A is, of course, bathroom, which would make B the couch. This is my most frequent route of travel these days. I may wear a path onto our floor before this is all over!

Second, and far worse, was waking up yesterday at 4am to shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. I knew this may happen carrying so many little ones, and I have dreaded the possibility. I've struggled with asthma since childhood, and the panicked feeling of not being able to draw air has gotten, if anything, worse for me over the years. Surprisingly, my breathing during pregnancy has been good until yesterday. Sitting up helps me but unfortunately also puts tremendous pressure on my southern parts, so I can only sit up for brief periods. I spent tonight sleeping in short stretches, waking up panicked and gasping for air. I am hoping that this problem exits as quickly as it appeared, but I also know that I can handle anything for a few more weeks!

I think I'll title this next section "Pea Brain". I have probably mentioned before that since pregnancy my brain capacity seems somewhat diminished. I am forgetful, have difficulty maintaining a train of thought, and just feel generally "dim". I have had lots of downtime over the past few months on the couch to watch TV and movies but have found my current mental state problematic. Andy and I have watched only a couple movies, because I can't seem to follow them. I have started to watch TV shows like Prison Break, Jericho, and The West Wing, but don't make it through more than an episode, because my brain just can't seem to string the plot. I invariably return to shows I've seen before and know well, Seinfeld, Hart of Dixie, Everybody Loves Raymond, etc.

Enter Sharknado.

So here's how the conversation went. 

Andy: Want to watch a movie tonight?
Me: If you can find something I can follow.
Andy: Sharknado?
Me: Never heard of it. What's it about?
Andy: Just what it sounds like. A massive tornado that throws sharks at the unsuspecting citizens of Los Angeles.
Me: Throws sharks? Yes, we MUST watch that.

And I loved it. The plot was simple, there were really only five characters (besides the hundreds of sharks), and it was just bad enough to be good. One of my favorite scenes featured Jon Heard (of Home Alone fame) being taken off screen to be devoured by one of the many sharks flying through the air. I believe this one was a hammer head. As the poor gent is being torn limb from limb by the beast, the talented Mr. Heard cries softly off camera, "Ouch! Owwww!" Really, the whole movie was just so bad that it was spectacular. So if you, dear friends, find yourself with Pregnancy Brain or any similar state of diminished mental capacity, I highly recommend Sharknado.

Last, one more shot from our maternity shoot with Abby Jayne Photography. Andy did a spectacular job fluffing my gown then running top speed out of the frame! I'm glad we got them dome at 25 weeks, as I'm not sure I'd be up to it today!

As always, thanks you for your love, support and prayers. We adore you all and the outpouring of support for us and the peanuts means the world to us.

Until next time, love and blessings,

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Blessed & blessed & blessed & blessed.

 It's been a whole month since our last growth scan, so we were very excited for our scan today. I will admit to a little bit of nervousness, however both Andy and I were mostly feeling peaceful about it. As I've said before, we really do feel your prayers and they have brought a great deal of comfort during what could have been a very stressful time.

Before we even got our results there was no doubt in my mind that the babies were growing. I know this first because during the past two weeks I haven't been able to stand up or shift positions on the couch without needing to urinate, so I knew the pressure on my bladder was increasing. Second, the babies movements have been crazy of late. I will try to get a good video of it and post a belly dancing link when I can. There is hardly a time of day or night when I can't feel anybody moving! I can feel and often see limbs on the surface of my skin, though I couldn't tell you whether they are arms or legs.  Last, I'm huge! Everything is tougher at this weight, including breathing. Poor Andy must feel like he's sitting on the couch next to a bull in a rodeo as loud as I have become. 

Overall though, I have to tell you that so far this experience has been less horrible than I imagined. Yes, sleeping is hard, walking is tiring, the stairs feel like running a marathon, I get nose bleeds when I blow my nose and occasionally pee a little when I sneeze, my ribs and back hurt all the time, the swelling in my feet has been miserable and I see the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man when I look in the mirror. However, there have also been a lot of wonderful things about the last months. I've gotten to know Mr. Hubs in a whole new way as he takes care of me and prepares our house for the babies. I've gotten to know God on a deeper level as I learn a new level of dependence, (because don't you know that my spiritual growth seems to come only during times of trial). We have enjoyed dinners with family and friends, the prayer and blessings of strangers, countless laughs with Andy on the couch, the joy of first feeling, then seeing the babies movements, the fun of getting to see the babies on the ultrasound screen every two weeks since way back when we were just five weeks along, and the anticipation of meeting these precious little miracles for the first time. 

But back to today. Against all the odds (praise God that he doesn't work in odds) the babies are all growing perfectly. At 27 weeks 5 days we are still on track with singleton babies. It took two ultrasound techs, several position changes and a lot of creative angles to get our numbers. Poor Micah is buried in brothers so he was hard to see but we finally got the results. 

2lb. 9oz. /1172 grams
66th percentile
Heart rate 141 bpm

2lb. 7oz. /1093 grams
49th percentile
Heart rate 135 bpm

2 lb. 5oz. / 1060 grams
42nd percentile
Heart rate 139 bpm

2lb. 9oz. /1176 grams
66th percentile
Heart rate 131 bpm

What little miracles they are! Isn't God amazing? Doc J. it's now pretty confident in their health. At this point their survival chances are very high and their chance of brain or other disorder low, though as we all know, nothing is guaranteed.

Unless something happens in the meantime we go back to the doctor Labor Day week.

Last, we had our maternity photo shoot a few weeks back and yesterday got our first preview. We can't wait to see how the rest of the group turned out, but we're tickled with the first! Abby Jayne Photography did a great job, though it was her newborn shoots that really drew me to her, so I can't wait to get those Mieler Peanuts in front of her!

Until next time, love and blessings,


Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Light at the End of The Tunnel.

Hi all. It's confession time tonight! I need to tell you that I had an absolutely miserable July. And it wasn't just one thing, it was everything, all at once. Imagine if you will, heartburn, hemorrhoids, insomnia, huge swollen feet, restless legs, extreme fatigue and rash, all intensifying at precisely the same moment. I can promise you it wasn't fun. I went from being relatively mobile and independent to hardly being able to do anything alone outside the house. Then, one morning in early August I woke following a particularly restful nights' sleep and realized that I felt, well, better. Not great, not ready to go run a marathon, probably not even good enough to run up the stairs, but better. Sure the relief was only temporary, or simply the delusion of a mind still heavy with sleep I swung my feet off the couch and prepared to start my day. And guess what I saw? Real feet, with veins and bones visible, appropriately proportioned ankles and toes that resembled sausages not at all. I was delighted! What a difference 24 hours can make! The surprise was completely unexpected and most welcome.

Side note on the feet, since, well, who does't love to talk more about feet? The swelling really came on full force at week 23. It became tough to walk without pain and hurt sometimes just to take a step. What I didn't photograph, but mentioned before, is that the swelling extended all the way up to my thigh. It was huge! At my week 24 weigh in, I was shocked to find that I had gained a whopping ten pounds in a week! Then, the following week, equally surprised to learn that I had lost seven. Jen's Theory of the Fluctuating Weight? I think I had at least five pounds of excess water hanging out in my legs. I don't know where it went or if it will be back, but I'm thrilled that's it's left me for the moment!

But enough about feet. With my newfound freedom and ability to leave the couch for more than four consecutive minutes, we got social!

Friday afternoon, a wonderful friend from church brought dinner for us. Do any of you have that friend who asks what you need, but then doesn't wait around for you find a way to tactfully tell her that yes, you really do need help? If you do, you've been very blessed. That's Jill. She asked what I needed, then told me she was bringing dinner. We've been so starved for anything that isn't mac n cheese, a bagel, or fast food, that I didn't even argue with her. So Friday night, and several wonderful leftover lunches after, we feasted on homemade tacos, taco salad, rice, beans and fresh fruit. It was such a treat to have something tasty to pop in the oven!

Saturday we had an invite for dinner with my friend, mentor, and two time small group leader, Joni, and her family. You may remember that it was Joni who had the perfect wisdom and honesty for me back in the Spring when we had just learned of the quads and were really struggling. "God is the author of life and death Jen (not you)". Joni has a wonderful husband, a super sweet rescue pup called Bentley, and four teenage kids. I will be asking her for tips in the future, because she has raised four of the kindest, most intelligent, engaging and Godly teens you would ever want to meet. Joni also happens to be a terrific cook, so we not only enjoyed great conversation, but chicken, watermelon, salad, and gluten free banana bread that was amazingly moist. We had such fun at dinner and the time went so fast that I forgot to take the picture I wanted to take. Just close your eyes and imagine something very Norman Rockwell-esque and you've probably come close.

Last, on Sunday we headed over for dinner with my dad and step-mom. They are quite the gourmets and also happen to have a dog named Bentley. We absolutely stuffed ourselves on lasagna made with hand rolled pasta, home made focaccia, and caesar salad. For dessert, we had a decadent ice cream cake with an Oreo crust that was out of this world. When they had asked me days before what I wanted for dinner, I responded simply "calories", and they did not disappoint.

Many of you know this handsome fella already (see where I get my good looks?), but for those who don't, here we are last Sunday after our feast. Doesn't soon-to-be-quad-grandpa look excited already? He's going to be fantastic with the wee ones!

And then there's Bentley. You may remember earlier that I told you dogs have been having a strange reaction to me as my hormones get stronger. We often have to keep Howard across the room or he will just pace restlessly in front of me. Once he's out of sniffing distance, however, he's back to his old self. Here are Howard and Lillian on patrol just the other day sitting right at my feet.

So far the strange reactions have been reserved for me, but last Sunday was Andy's turn. Bentley is a Great Pyrenees "puppy" who, at around 85 pounds, is still expected to pack on another 60 pounds. It's hard to imagine, because he's already a pretty big boy. As soon as Andy sat down, Bentley trotted over for lap dog duty. He has never done this before, but for some reason he just couldn't get enough of Andy. It was just hilarious watching this giant dog trying to position himself perfectly on Andy's lap. Andy, of course, being the dog lover that he is, took it in stride, and by the end of the day we had to pry the two buddies apart.

Last, an update from my doctor's appointment Tuesday. My report is that there is not much to report. No bed rest, and if nothing goes wrong in the meantime, no more appointments until my 28 week growth scan. My blood pressure was great, weight good, babies heartbeats were excellent and they are surrounded by plenty of fluid, so we all got a clean bill of health. Doc J. says that he expects the babies to be right around 2 pounds each at this point. That means I have 8 pounds of babies and 8 pounds of placenta inside of me right now, which makes me wonder, where are the other 33 pounds I've gained? Oh well, I guess we may never know!

Such good times, and we feel so blessed to be surrounded by such love. What a journey this has been. It barely seems real that we could have made it already to 26 weeks, but here we are!

We thank you to the moon and back for all your prayers and support. We really do feel it.

Love and blessings,

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Q & A Rides Again!

How are you feeling?

This is the question I get more than any other. Truthfully, I think I'm doing pretty well, though being my first pregnancy I have nothing to compare this to. So far my blood pressure has remained normal to slightly low, my weight gain has been steady and my energy has been good considering what my body is going through. I think my biggest setback has been my giant foot! More about the giant foot in my next post.

Will you go on bed rest?

Hopefully not! Doc J says that recent studies do not support the argument for bed rest in most cases. He continues to encourage me to listen to my body. On the "listen to my body plan", my day may be relatively active, very sedentary, or anywhere in between depending on how I feel that day. It has been working well so far!

Can you tell the kicks apart?

Mostly yes. I'll give you the rundown in A, B, C, D order. Micah is sitting very low and has very little space. He is literally under a pile of babies. Because of his position, when I do feel him kick it feels very different from the others, more pain then thump. Becker is running straight up the center of my belly. He feels a little muffled since his placenta is in front and acts like a barrier. The doctor described it as Bex kicking me through a pillow. Roland is crazy active! I wonder if this baby will ever sleep when he comes out, because he sure doesn't seem to now. Little Lando's kicks are often visible on the surface of my belly, tiny pops dancing on my skin.  Last, I mentioned earlier that Marin is hogging my entire left side, so my far left kicks are pretty clearly hers. She is moderately active. I feel her daily, but usually only a few times per day. In general, Roland is the wild child so far!

When will the babies come home?

Regardless of whether the babies are born this week or in six weeks (goal), they should come home in November, probably very close to their 40 week due date of November 22.

Who can see the babies at home?

Preemies are at a high risk for RSV in Michigan from November to April. Because of this their visits will be pretty restricted. We've been told that they should largely be staying at home except for doctor's appointments. As for visitors to the house, only those who have had both their flu and whooping cough vaccines, along with proof of the vaccines, will be able to visit. It's a bummer to not be able to show them off to absolutely everyone, but we have to be so very careful to keep them healthy this winter so they'll be ready for their Grand Entrance to Grand Rapids society next spring.

What can we do to help?

First and foremost, please keep up the prayers. I promise we can feel them and see the results. Aside from that our biggest need will be for easy meals we can take from freezer to oven as soon we will be very busy running back and forth from the NICU daily, and then busy trying to get into a routine with four babies at home as first time parents. We will have a chest freezer for the basement soon and will begin to work on getting it stocked.

Do you have a registry?

I hesitate to put this one up, but many of you have asked. We have already been incredibly blessed by the generosity of family and friends and as always, what we covet most are your prayers. But since you have asked, here it is.

Jen & Andy's Registry

And last but not least, the question I get that cracks me up the most.  Four times now we have told someone about the quads and their question has been,

"There are four in there right now?"

My sarcastic side wants to say, "no, not right now. We're going to put them in there one at a time, over time".  My polite side has won out so far, and I smile, pat my belly and say, "all four, right now".

Until next time, love and blessings,


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Our Biggest Week Ever!

So much news to report this week that I'm not sure where to begin!

Friends, on Thursday I hit 24 weeks, so we now officially have (drumroll please), viable babies! If you look at the NICU chart I posted earlier, you will see that based on the babies age they now have a 76% chance of survival, and based on weights, an 80% chance. If they delivered today, their chances of disability would still be high, but of course not guaranteed either way. The longer they stay inside the better their chances of being healthy. Our next big milestone is to reach 28 weeks, at which point their survival chances go all the way up to 95%. Please pray that we make it safely through August with all the babies inside and growing!

This week I had two steroid shots to help the babies lungs. They begin to work very quickly, so if the babies were to deliver early, these shots would mean their lungs have a little boost over other babies at their age. The shots can be repeated at four week intervals, so we will do this again at 28 weeks. The nurse at the docs office gave me the first shot on Tuesday, and Super Hubs gave me the second the following day. I have to tell you that Andy's injection was far less painful than the one the nurse gave (sorry Mary).

This is normally the point where I would insert pictures of each baby as I tell you about our latest appointment, however I can't do that this time. Tuesday, as Emily started the ultrasound, we were both surprised to find three baby boys in a jumbled wrestling pile, and one baby girl stretched out with all the space in the world! The only picture we could get of the boys was of their heads.

Emily laughed and wondered if the boys would figure out that they have all sorts of room to stretch out to the left, or if they would just stay in their huddle on the right. It was quite a challenge to get all the measurements with the boys so packed in, but Emily stuck with it and we got everybody's stats.

Micah  - 1lb. 8oz.
               684 grams
                Heartbeat 145 bpm
                84th percentile

Becker  - 1lb. 7oz.
                651 grams
                Heartbeat 150 bpm
                71st percentile

Roland  - 1lb. 8oz.
                668 grams
                Heartbeat 135 bpm
                78th percentile

So as you can see, the boys are doing great. We are happy to see them so high in overall percentile as we continue to work toward our goal of 3 pound birth weights.

And then there's the Little Princess. Emily joked that she is pushing all the boys out of her way so that the pictures would all be of her, and so far she is quite photogenic. Doesn't she look like she's posing?

Then Emily flipped a switch and I was thrilled to see this! Isn't technology amazing?

Marin - 1lb. 9oz.
              696 grams
              Heartbeat 145bpm
              89th percentile

So far our little girl outweighs the boys, though not by much. 

All the babies are doing great, as am I apparently. When we met with the doc we were surprised when he said that he didn't need to see me for two more weeks!

Speaking of seeing me, there's a whole lot of me to see these days. Here I am on Thursday, at exactly 24 weeks.

And here is a comparison of just six weeks ago. Can you believe how quickly I'm growing?

With the progression of pregnancy comes new hurdles every week. I was getting around pretty well up until recently, when my left side began to swell. The doctor looked at the leg to be sure it wasn't a blood clot, but unfortunately just a few minutes on my feet can double my leg in size. The right leg is also pretty swollen, but nothing compared to the left! See how smooth and tight the skin is pulled? If we looked up a bit, you'd see that my left knee is about the size of my thigh!

With the swelling came came another big restriction. I can no longer walk around to do the grocery shopping. Isn't is amazing the little things we take for granted until they are taken away from us? But never fear, we've found a fix, delivered to the front of the store by Dear Hubs himself!

Yes, I have become a Cart Person. My quad mom group tells me this is excellent practice for the stares I will get when I am eventually grocery shopping with the quads, but I think I would still prefer to pass on the experience. Andy found the whole thing hilarious, especially when I couldn't make a tight turn and had to throw it in reverse, which caused a Beep, Beep, Beep to sound loudly through the store.

Our last big milestone of the week was a shuffling of vehicles. Andy and my mom drove to Peoria, Illinois last week to pick up our new minivan, which left us with three vehicles. Since my Mazda is five years newer than Andy's Honda, and with 100,000 fewer miles, Andy decided reluctantly that it was the Honda we should sell. It was a tough decision as this was the first brand new car he had ever bought, and had planned to drive it until it disintegrated into a pile of rubble in front of the house! Seriously. Andy takes great care of his cars, so it was not surprising that the second people who looked at the car bought it, but it was definitely a sad parting for Andy.

On Sunday, our first outing in the new minivan was dinner with a local quad family. Becky and Andy have two girl and two boy quads, plus a big sister. Becky and I have met before and stay in frequent contact, and I was able to meet her three year old quads back on my first visit with her this Spring. For Andy though, this was an entirely new experience. Although Andy and I have been together for five years, I have rarely had the opportunity to see him around small children, so this was a new experience for me as well. I wish you all could have seen him! He took to the kids like he'd known them their entire lives. As Becky and I sat chatting on the couch we looked over at one point to see four three year olds dangling from Andy's arms and legs, laughing and clearly enjoying themselves. It truly melted me to see him having so much fun with the kiddos. He's going to be a great dad when our little ones come along!

That's it for now. Please pray for us to make it safely through August, and then we'll start praying about September. I admit I am really taking this a day at a time though. I wake up each morning and thank God for another day of babies safe inside.

Love and blessings,


The Quad Bod

I thought it would be fun to put together a progression to look at all in one page. It amazes me to see how quickly I have grown. There hasn't been a single week when I didn't see a change.

I forgot to take an official beginning of pregnancy pic, but here is one from from our wedding day less than two years before we got pregnant, and it is an accurate representation of my Pre Quad Bod.

My starting weight was 125. Where I end up is anyone's guess! I'll continue to update this page as more weeks go by.

Week 24 was a week a massive water gain for me. Notice the drop in weight the following week? I had a lot of fluid sitting in my legs and feet.

As you can probably tell by the weight, my legs both puffed up again this week. I feel like a stuffed sausage. The skin on my thighs feels tighter than the skin on my belly!