This is another pregnancy post. It might sound like complaints, but it isn't meant to be. I just am experiencing so much that I want to document everything that I can about this. I don't want to forget any of it, the good nor the bad. Most of these things are covered earlier here, but it is my way to write long posts to put it all together. Forgive me. ;)
In some ways I think this has been a relatively easy pregnancy, given my age and the twin thing. In others, I think it has been difficult, partly because it feels difficult and partly because others have told me that some of my experiences are on the more "difficult" end of pregnancy symptoms. As I've mentioned before, I am more concerned about certain discomforts rather than put off by them. I want so badly for everything to end well with 2 healthy babies. Since this is my first pregnancy, I have nothing to base my experiences on for reference. Since this is a twin pregnancy, most of the reading materials about pregnancy aren't quite relevant since most everything is based on singleton pregnancies. I've looked at a couple of books on multiples at the library but have found them to be a bit daunting since they often cover the many scary aspects of a multiple pregnancy - and I'd rather focus on the positive and not worry so much.
I still have a few months to go (I hope) so I know that there are many more symptoms to come. Over the last two weeks I've felt more and more all of the things that many feel in the third trimester, mainly fatigue and an inability to eat much. I feel like I didn't have much of the 2nd trimester bliss many people talk about. The first trimester symptoms stayed a bit late into the 2nd trimester and the physical symptoms of the third trimester started about a month ago.
In the first trimester I didn't throw up once and was very pleased about that. However, we did have the amniotic sac issues with the babies and that was our biggest concern. It turns out that this was likely caused by a protein deficiency, though they still haven't 100% ruled out that the babies could be monochorionic (sharing the placenta). I had a really hard time eating protein-rich foods. Fluids and fruits were great, but "heavy" foods were tough. By heavy, I mean foods that took some effort to chew and digest. I was losing weight until I started on the Boost and Ensure high protein drinks. They really helped in so many ways! I also put in a lot of time doing left-side resting in an effort to get better flow to the uterus for the babies. It all helped a lot. I felt better and the amniotic sac sizes balanced out. To this day both babies are measuring very close to each other. I should also mention that I asked my Bishop for a special blessing for the babies.
Also in the first trimester, I was super tired. I know sleepiness is a common symptom in pregnancy. This was to the extreme. I couldn't go more than 3-4 hours without a 2-hour nap. I was tired and had absolutely no appetite. It didn't bother me so much as concern me about the babies. I was concerned that I wasn't getting enough nutrients for them. I was also concerned that the excess fatigue would make me unhealthy and unfit to carry the babies for as long as necessary. I did whatever I could to force myself to eat and to move around. This tiredness was welcome, however, as opposed to the severe insomnia I had until I was about 8 weeks pregnant. It was night and day (pun intended).
I think that was pretty much it for the first trimester. I never felt like I suffered much from moodiness or hormonal issues. Dave also thought I was doing pretty well, all things considered. I felt very happy and blissful most of the time and very little bothered me.
Somewhere around 10 weeks, however, I started having severe palpitations. My heart would flutter and then pound. The flutter made me feel nauseated and the following pound would give me a throbbing headache. When it happened frequently (every 4-6 beats) I felt as if there was nothing I could do but lie down. There were no fast beats, just the flutter-pause-pound, flutter-pause-pound. I've had this before, usually in the summer with intense heat, so it wasn't a new sensation, but it was getting more and more frequent and again, I was concerned about the babies. After several weeks of it my OB referred me to see a cardiologist. The cardiologist diagnosed it as "compensatory beats," which I think is another way of saying premature ventricular contractions (PVC), which are relatively harmless but can make one feel like crap. Essentially, what was happening was my heart was giving me some extra beats. The extra beat was the flutter, and it occurred too quickly after a regular beat for my heart to fully fill with blood so it would pump just about 70% of a normal pump, then it would pause to try to fill up again better, but on that one it would fill up too much. That was the pause. After the pause it would pump more than the usual amount of blood, which is what gave me the "thump" sensation and my brain would suffer slightly from the brief pause, which is what caused the headache and dizziness. He said I could take some beta blockers, which could help, or I could just put up with it. I chose to just put up with it.
The palpitations got a lot better a couple of weeks ago. I still get nosebleeds, though. Yes, nosebleeds. Nosebleeds are also common in pregnancy so they don't really concern me. I get a few a week, usually when I sleep. The palpitations and nosebleeds are apparently caused by the increased blood flow. I read somewhere that by now with a twin pregnancy, my blood flow would have doubled from my prepregnancy levels. I can feel my heartbeat really easily just by touching many places on my body. If I tilt my head slightly to the right I can hear my heart pounding.
The contractions started a little before I hit the 16-week mark. At first I didn't know what they were, they just felt funny. It wasn't until I touched my stomach during that odd sensation and discovered that it felt like a rock. After several more, I was convinced they were Braxton-Hicks contractions. I wasn't very concerned about them, since I knew that Braxton-Hicks were common and often harmless. I was a little concerned at how early and how frequent I was getting them. Again, most of my information comes from what I've learned of singleton pregnancies, so I figured that with twins they would start a lot earlier. I mentioned it to my OB and she assured me that I would get a lot of them. My OB tries really hard to keep my concerns and worries down and I love her for that. She did, however, keep tabs on the situation should it get worse.
I mentioned the contractions the next time I went to Perinatology for an ultrasound. This was at 19 weeks. They were concerned because they said it was early for them and that it sounded like I was getting more than I should. I was advised of how to palpate my uterus to feel for how long they last and how often they come. I was told not to worry about them unless I got more than 6 per hour. I was also told that when I did get them frequently that I needed to keep my bladder empty, rest, elevate my feet, and drink fluids. I followed this advice whenever I started getting 6-8 per hour and it would bring them down to 3-4 per hour.
Last week I learned that they don't want me calling them Braxton-Hicks contractions because BH implies that they are harmless. The ones I've been getting, while they aren't labor contractions and most women would consider them to be BH, they can actually be cause for concern. They told me that if the contractions last longer than about 35 seconds (most of mine last 1-2 minutes), that they can actually cause cervical dilation and lead to premature labor. They put me on their weekly monitoring system a little bit early. I am now supposed to spend one hour twice per day counting contractions. To count contractions I am to spend an hour drinking a few glasses of water and getting well hydrated, then empty my bladder, lie down, and start feeling for contractions. This is done by just lying down with my hands on my stomach and keeping track of every contraction, how long they last and how frequent they occur. Each Monday a nurse calls me and asks me for my contraction counts of each day and makes sure I'm feeling a lot of baby movement.
I also started following the restrictions they set for me (listed a few posts ago). Well, I've followed them a lot with a few exceptions (like today when I made a big trip to the store, brought in all the groceries and then proceeded to fully clean out the fridge and freezer before putting them all away - I think my nesting instinct is kicking in), or day-before-yesterday when I drove 2 hours to mom's to get some belly shots taken, then got stuck in traffic on the way home so it took about 3 hours. Since taking it a lot easier I have noticed my contraction counts go from 6 an hour down to 3-4 an hour. I even had one hour today where I only had one contraction - amazing!
I now have a bladder the size of a walnut. Not so bad in the day but difficult at night since I'm still not waking up from a full bladder. I wake up about 3 times a night due to sciatic pain more than anything, which a nurse at Kaiser suspects is the full bladder pushing the uterus to put pressure on my sciatic nerve. After I get up to walk off the pain I realize I have to go potty. Once the pressure is relieved the leg pain is gone, too, so I think the nurse is probably right.
I've become quite an airhead lately. Dave and I have joked that my brain cells have now gone to the babies and we worry that I'll never get them back. I hope they're smart babies to compensate for my loss of brain power, hehe.
My belly grows in spurts and when I get a spurt my back aches, my belly feels like I've done a ton of situps, and I feel generally wiped out. The belly pain was almost constant until about 18 weeks, now it comes a few days per week. I'm now getting the looks and comments as if I am going to deliver soon, so I guess I'm getting pretty big. I've gotten used to it by now, though, and Dave reminds me of just how huge I've grown. How nice of him, hehe. ;) Well, there is much more growing to do!
That's mostly it, but the documenting of symptoms wouldn't be complete without mentioning the most amazing one of all, baby movement. I've felt it for a few months now and it gets stronger each day and more frequent. I love it. I think it's funny when I have the laptop close to my belly and a baby kicks and pushes it a little bit away. Tempest loves to lay on my rounded belly. I wonder what he'll think of the kicks, especially when they get stronger. One morning in Mexico I felt something strange on my side so I put my hands on it and it was a rounded lump. Dave felt it, too, and we think it was Hose-B/Tope's bum or head. It's amazing and I love it.