Monday, August 8, 2011

36 weeks

A few weeks ago, I was asked by a reader, who is pregnant with triplets, about my experience in carrying the girls to 36 weeks. I want to point out that she didn't ask me how to make it to 36 weeks. Sometimes no matter what you do (and it doesn't matter if you are having one, two or three babies), things completely beyond your control happen and you may not make it to 32 or 34 or 36 or 38 weeks.

My pregnancy with the girls was fairly debilitating from day one. For the first trimester, I was barely functioning. As most of you know, we didn't discover that I was carrying three babies until 17 weeks (and four days.) Black Friday was about a week and a half before that ultrasound and I was lounging around on the couch while Rich and my dad installed a central vacuum system in our house. It was on the warm side for November and everyone insisted that a touch of fresh air and exercise would cure my sluggishness.

Our house was within walking distance to the center of town so Grammy and I took off for a short stroll to check out some stores. We then walked to the quick mart around the corner to pick up a loaf of bread. I felt like an overdone turkey when all was said and done.

I still to this day remind Rich and Grammy of that day. "Hey, remember when I was 15 weeks pregnant with triplets and you forced me to walk around town even though I was exhausted and should have been resting?"

A few days after the new year, I hit the 22 week mark. Soon after, I only left my house for appointments with my doctor. I didn't even have the energy for minor outings, such as those to the grocery store.

My doctor, who was a maternal fetal medicine specialist, did not believe in placing his patients on bed rest unless there was reason to and simply being pregnant with triplets was not reason enough. Listening to your body is important though and if your body is telling you to rest, you need to rest. I basically lounged around for months because, physically, that was all I could do. I was never placed on bed rest but at some point, as I was waddling out of my doctor's office, he reminded me that my weekly excitement should be reserved for outings to appointments and ultrasounds.

Being pregnant with the girls was the most discomfort I have ever experienced for an extended period of time. Rich took to sleeping in a bed set up in another bedroom because I reached a point where I barely slept for more than two hours at a time. I would have to climb out of bed and walk around before crawling back in to try to sleep for another two hours.

If I was sleeping on my right side and needed to move over to my left side, I had to actually get out of the bed because I couldn't sit up or roll over. I was also hot all the time, which is not like me at all (I run a space heater at work, even in the summer), and often opened the bedroom windows throughout February and March. Those of you who live in New England know how cold that is.

I think my final weight gain was 55 pounds. That was 50% of my starting weight and my knees definitely felt the additional pounds. I couldn't bend my knees to sit down so I would have to fall back onto the love seat that became my spot in the house and the toilet. Yeah, using the bathroom was so much fun. I'm surprised I didn't break the paper holder using it to heave myself up.

At the very end, the bottom of my belly (or Allie) actually touched the seat of my chair (or love seat) when I sat upright. Which is why I only sat upright to eat and finish our tax returns.

As with most aspects of life, it is all relative. I was in a different place. The pain of losing Abbey was still very real and very raw and the doctors never let us forget the high risk of a triplet pregnancy. I never once complained. Everyone knew that I was exhausted. Everyone knew that I was uncomfortable. Everyone knew that I was afraid. I never had to vocalize it.

During my six week post delivery appointment, my doctor commented that I was trooper. I was confused. What do you mean? Those babies had to stay in as long as possible. Anna needed to be as big as possible for surgery. Why would I ever complain about being pregnant? How could I complain about being pregnant?

As a runner, you learn what the expression "mind over matter" means. I once told Rich that running a marathon without training for it would have been easier than what I did. Much easier. But I wouldn't change anything. Carrying them to 35 weeks and 6 days was a small miracle in my book.


Meg said...

Aw. This made me tear up, the end... Sarah, I love your stories and the way you write. :) We found out about our twins at 17 weeks, too, I can't imagine had there been another in there... :)

I made it to 35w5d with our twins (my own accomplishment!!) after a somewhat uneventful, very uncomfortable, pregnancy. Never had official bed rest, but always listened to my body and took it easy whenever I felt it. I really think being aware of my own limitations {and listening to them} helped me keep those babies in for so long! :)

Just Me said...

You are amazing!

Barb said...

Love this post! It really IS amazing what you did, without complaining no less!
I've made the same comment that running a marathon was easier than my triplet pregnancy.

Hope's Mama said...

Carrying one baby after the full term loss of another was hard enough, so I will be forever in awe of your story and how you handled your situation with such grace. Even now having reached full term of yet another pregnancy, my hat still goes off to you as even if this one makes it, I will still only have the two little ones at home to chase around. And as debilitating as this pregnancy has been, I still know deep down it would be a million times harder carrying three at once.
Your story really is an inspiration to me.

Rich said...

Sarah is really down-playing how well she did in terms of "being a trooper" during that pregnancy.
I made an effort to attend most of Sarah's appointments and as a result I heard first-hand the comments made by each and every nurse, doctor and technician. Yes every pregnancy is different and difficult in its own way. But, the emotional and physical drain Sarah endured for Allie, Anna and Emily was special.
Rich (Sarah's hubby)

jgs4p said...

Difficult pregnancies can be indescribable. I know that I put my head down and just pushed through. Through hyperemesis gravid arum, home IV fluids, a zofran pump, seven IV iron infusions for anemia, a change from an OB to MFM. The PTL at 28 stopped by Mag Sulfate, then steroids for lungs, then procardia, then another PTL at 30 weeks, Mag Sulfate and terbutaline, then back on procardia. Then PTL at 33 weeks, same Mag sulfate to stop labor. Then, just as a kicker, cholestasis at 36 weeks. Managed to carry to 36w6d. I had a complete meltdown cry session when the twins were a few weeks old that the pain I went through was finally over.
I have felt some loss over not having the pregnancy or delivery I imagined, but I realize that My doctor and I fought tooth and nail to keeps those girls in that long and I am so proud of myself for that.

I can't imagine the emotional pain of losing Abagail and the news of Anna's condition. You are a strong woman! I love reading your blog entries. Especially these types, and ones about sweet Anna.

~Jess said...

Thanks for posting this, and for responding to my email :-)

Hope's Mama said...

Rich I just wanted to come back and say what a beautiful comment that was. You are a fantastic hubby to Sarah and brilliant father to all four of your girls.

Aris said...

I second the comments about how amazing you are!

Jessica said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessica said...

I love following your blogs and reading about you and your girls! So I was just wondering, why did you not find out until 17 weeks that you were having triplets? Was it because it just wasn't seen in the first ultrasound?!

Sarah said...

Thank you all for your comments. It is amazing what all mothers go through.

Jessica - that ultrasound at 17 weeks was my first with that pregnancy. The hospital that I was going to did not do 1st trimester ultrasounds unless there was an issue.