Thursday, May 28, 2009

33 Weeks Update

I met with the Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist this past Friday.  They did a growth scan on both babies.  Wiz weighs roughly 3 lbs. 12 oz. and Nug is power-housing it around 4 lbs.  These weights are good and in the normal range for twin pregnancies at 32 weeks gestation.

Both babies have turned, they were breech for a few weeks.  Wiz is sitting right on my cervix, clearly wanting to be first in line at the 'Big Reveal' (garnering the follow sassy response from my Grandma: 'well, isn't he being the gentleman!').  Nug is laying sideways with her head tilted slightly downwards.  For weeks we've been patting these bulges at the top of my belly assuming they were heads . . . turns out Dave was kissing and talking to their little bottoms.

Basically, both babies are overlapping each other in my belly making it extremely difficult to view individually during an ultra sound.  The technician tried her best to get measurements but wasn't confident on the accuracy (I'm assured it is completely safe and healthy for the babies to sit like this in my belly).

Apparently all my efforts to eat right and monitor my glucose levels have paid off!  Wiz's amniotic sac is now down to 6 (it was 9 two weeks ago) and neither baby is showing signs of fatty weight gain associated with gestational diabetes (Sweetheart, if you're reading this, I want a huge chocolate milkshake, chocolate chip cookies and a big hot fudge sundae once these babies are born!).

Yesterday I had my 33 week check-up with the ob/gyn.  Their heartbeats are still good.  My weight has not changed in the last 5 or 6 weeks.  I've gained about 30 lbs. this entire pregnancy.  I'm assured this plateau is okay, despite the fact every pregnancy book states a weight gain of one pound per week during the third trimester is normal and expected.

I meet with the Endocrinologist today.  My glucose levels were pretty erratic these past two weeks.  I blew the 120 goal a few times.  However, I'm not worried since both babies are healthy and I haven't gained or lost any weight.  

For the record, it's hard to find a good convenient low-carb meal when you're spending every afternoon and evening painting, prepping and moving into a new house.  I must recommend the new grilled chicken meals at KFC and the grilled chicken salad at McDonald's, both of which kept me under the 120 mark.  Oh!  and Amanda made us a fantastic spaghetti casserole that fed us during the entire move (she should be cloned and shipped to every pregnant woman in America).

That's all for now!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Queen For 100 Days

Dave and I completed our final birthing class last night. We learned how to swaddle and discussed postpartum issues. This is a picture of Dave and his master swaddle (his next project is to master the one-handed-simultaneous-twin swaddle, good luck sweetheart!).

I know postpartum depression is a common issue for new mothers, in fact 20% of all new mothers in the US experience some form of this depression. What I didn't know was the United States has one of the highest rates of postpartum depression compared to other countries.

We were told one possible reason could be how our culture handles a new mother post-delivery. A lot of focus and attention is given to the new baby and less to the new mother (completely understandable . . . babies are incredibly cute).

Some new mommies might feel marginalized or forgotten if a lack of recognition is paid to their role in the birth of cute baby. Here's just a simple list of what mom had to go through to bring new life into the world:
  • sacrificed her body for 9 months to grow baby and another 3 months to fully recover from birthing baby (that's a full year folks!)
  • altered her diet and habits to make sure baby would be healthy (did she exercise enough, eat enough iron and protein, give up caffeine, etc.)
  • went through the pain of child birth (regardless of the reward, I've been told it's still painful)
  • if breastfeeding, is still the sole lifeline to keeping baby alive post-delivery (human milk factory doesn't sound very glamorous)
I can see why telling a new mommy 'Congratulations! Now where's that cute baby!' could inadvertently make her depressed. Apparently, in other countries the new mother is given a lot more attention. For example:
  • In Japan the new mother does not cook or clean for the first 100 days after delivery (relatives rally to complete these tasks).
  • In India, a new mother's feet never touches the ground for a period of time post-delivery.
  • In Europe, most countries have laws mandating one full year of maternity leave.
  • Here in the US, our laws only allow for three months of maternity leave (already depressed just thinking about that one and I don't even work).
The overarching theme being other cultures embrace the idea of worshipping new mothers for completing one of life's biggest accomplishments. Thus, possibly reducing the rate of postpartum depression in a new mother.

So, the next time you see a friend and her new baby (or babies) make sure to lavish her with attention and any sort of pampering care you feel she needs.

Oh! and let's not forget the new daddies, they've been depressed since conception if you think about it. All attention is focused on the pregnant woman and then they get hit with the same 'Congratulations! Where's the cute baby?'

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Moving Tip #245

Do beg your friends to come and visit as soon as you move.

This will force you to get out of bed and begin learning your new surroundings.  Start by booking up every weekend with an out-of-town guest to avoid moments of self-pity.  Besides, there's no better way to explore a new city than with an old friend.  

Furthermore, don't be ashamed to use guilt trips to get your lazy friends to visit . . . bribe them with a free place to stay and free meals.

It's worked for us so far!  


Team Shupe


Monday, May 18, 2009

World's Best Amanda & Parents!

We started painting the house this weekend!  A HUGE 'Thank You' to my parents and Amanda for coming to help.  We painted the entryway, living room, kitchen and master bedroom.  I spent most of the weekend sitting outside on the back porch, with the dogs, watching my feet swell (I officially have 'kankles').  

Some of Dave's co-workers will help paint after work this week.  We're hoping to get the dining room, master bathroom and nursery painted by Friday.  Movers come on Saturday to deliver our furniture.  Hopefully this time next week we'll be living permanently in our house. 

It's amazing what a coat of paint will do to a room.  This house now feels like our home.  Originally, every room was painted a pale yellow color, not a bad color, but not a color that compliments any of our furniture.  

Why are we rushing to get almost every room painted by Friday?  If you haven't noticed, we're having twins soon!  We're betting on not having the time to paint anything in the next few months (maybe even years)

Anyway, Dave and I had a lot of fun this weekend and are eternally grateful for the much needed help.   

Friday, May 15, 2009

Penniless But Not Homeless

We are official homeowners again . . . though we might have to use some of Dave's old t-shirts as diapers for a while.  There is also the possibilities the babies will in fact sleep in dresser drawers (we have cribs but no mattresses) and at this point we should be able to take at least one baby home from the hospital (someone actually bought us a car seat!)

The closing went smoothly, however everything leading up to closing was a nightmare.  We opted for the 'world's fastest closing' which would have been fine if our loan processor hadn't mysteriously left the company four days before closing without processing a single portion of our loan.  A huge 'Thank You' to Peter-the-miracle-maker Miller for stepping in at the last minute and getting our mortgage documents ready in time for closing.  

Oh, another painful lesson learned.  Don't expect wire transfers to happen same day.  It baffles me these things take longer today than they did 100 years ago using Western Union.

On the plus side, we have a house!  Last night we took the dogs over to the new place to let them get familiar with the setting.  They seemed impressed.  Lavender learned how to let herself out the back porch and some how learned how to get back inside . . . not sure if we want her doing this regularly.  Bailey was simply Bailey and wondered the house, possibly looking for secret places to pee when we're not looking. 

Our neighbors seem interesting.  One of the houses across the street appears to be operating a local sports bar from inside their garage.  Basically its a handful of guys who sit on bar stools and watch a flat screen TV mounted on one of the garage walls (sorry Dave, our garage is for our cars).  

The next door neighbor has a two small children, one boy and one girl.  He likes to lift weights in his driveway.  Not completely sure why, I haven't found any neighborly audiences actively watching this monumental show of beer gut and masculinity (maybe he's hoping for an invitation to the neighborhood sports bar?).  

All in all, the houses are nice, the yards are maintained and we have a neighborhood pool, plus a pond with real life Lilly pads in full bloom.  

We're excited to move in next weekend.  We picked out paint samples last night for the living room/kitchen area, master bedroom and bathroom.  Today I'm focusing on colors and decorating ideas for the nursery.  

I'll try and do some 'before' and 'after' photos of everything!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

30 Weeks Update

Last week I failed the 3-hour glucose test which means I officially have gestational diabetes.  I've been referred to an endocrinologist for monitoring.  

Yesterday I met with the nutritionist.  She gave me a packet of information on GD (most of which I already found on the Internet) and a booklet on what types of foods to eat and how often.  She reassured me there are minimal risks to the babies as long as I keep my glucose levels low, this was additionally confirmed by the Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist I visited on Friday.  

I have to use an electronic meter to check my glucose levels 4 times a day (yes, finger pricking is involved).  The goal is to keep my glucose levels below 120.  If it consistently stays below 120 than I won't need insulin injections.  So far my levels are around 110 which is good.  On Thursday the endocrinologist will review my levels and decide on further treatment (I don't anticipate any additional treatment).  

As I mentioned earlier, I had my two week check-up on Friday with the high risk pregnancy specialist (aka Dr. Chicken Little).  Surprisingly, this was a good visit.  Dr. Chicken Little was on vacation, I was able to meet with a much more down to Earth doctor from Raleigh.  He told me not to worry about the gestational diabetes, the amniotic sacs were not growing in either babies but holding steady.  Nugget had a level of 6 (considered normal) and Wizard had a level of 9 (on the high end).  Both levels were unchanged from two weeks ago which was positive. 

Another hormone level test was done to check for preterm labor.  It came back negative so things look good for the next two weeks.  My cervical lining is still good, on the low end but unchanged from two weeks ago.  Both babies' heart rates were good and everything looks normal.

In non-baby related news, we close on our new house this Thursday.  We are trying to get the house painted over the weekend so it can air out before the movers come next week with the furniture.  

Pregnant women not being allowed to paint or smell paint fumes (darn it!), the majority of this task falls on Dave's shoulders.  We're having a paint party this Saturday and Sunday--anyone who wants to come and help, please, please, please let us know (Dave's in charge of the beer).  At this point, we really would appreciate the help, so check your calenders!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Contagious Pregnancies: Part Deux

Back in September of last year I tried a little (highly unscientific) experiment at my friend Sarah's baby shower.  Would rubbing her 'Buddha' belly with my empty belly get me pregnant?

Well, seven months later I think it's safe to say I've stumbled on a radical new technique with dramatic results.  So far, there seems to be a 100% success rate using this technique (or is that 200% when factoring twins?).

At my shower, we tried this revolutionary technique on another willing subject.  Will a twin Buddha belly rub garner the same results?  Time will only tell. . . 

Go Team Shupe!!!  We're rooting for you!!!

Monday, May 4, 2009


If you've suffered through my ramblings of late (totally your fault), then you know I'm struggling with the lack of birthing options available for twin pregnancies here at the beach.  My current options include:
  • C-section by a doctor
  • Labor at home then C-section by a doctor
  • Labor at hospital then C-section by a doctor
Why are doctors here so unwilling to allow vaginal births for twin pregnancies?  I haven't really asked that question yet (I've been too busy asking if I could even have a vaginal birth).  In the meantime I might have a theory.  

Back in 2007 the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on a British research study which found c-sections to be safer for twin babies than vaginal deliveries.  Basically there was an increased risk in post-delivery deaths for the second-born baby when twins were delivered vaginally.  

The researchers were quick to state while there was an increased risk for the second-born baby, it was still very small compared to other risks like premature birth.  In fact, one doctor was quoted as saying:
"I would hate to see this study used as an excuse to have every mother with twins have a Caesarean section."

-Dr. F Sessions Cole, director of newborn medicine and head of neonatal intensive care unit at St. Louis Children's Hospital.
I have no idea if this study has influenced my doctors' viewpoints on c-sections vs. vaginal delivery where twins are concerned.  If it has than the above quote becomes extremely ironic.

There is a second issue at hand obstetricians face when delivering twins:  malpractice risk.  I can only assume my doctors are more comfortable doing routine c-sections on twin pregnancies because it minimizes the malpractice risk of any complications arising from a vaginal birth.

To be honest, having a c-section does not upset me, the few people I know who've had them say they are not bad.  What does upset me is the lack of control and choice I've been given.  Personally, I feel it should be my right to have whichever birth I want for these babies (technically I still have these choices, but who really wants to have a twin vaginal birth when every doctor you've talked to tells you they aren't comfortable doing them).

Ideally, a c-section shouldn't be the first course of action for twin pregnancies, but the last course of action used in emergency situations.  Isn't that how c-sections originally evolved? 

For those of you wondering 'what's the big hype about c-sections vs. vaginal births?'  First, c-sections are much harder on the mother's body recovery-wise than actually having a vaginal birth (provided the mother has proper training on how to prepare/cope with vaginal births).  

Second, laboring and vaginal birthing release natural hormones inside the mother's body and womb to help prepare both for delivery.  For the mother, these hormones aid in a quicker recovery post-delivery.  For the baby, the hormones and actual act of labor prepare the baby's brain and lungs for independent living (bye bye umbilical cord).

One final note, would-be Dr. Kammer said it best (and so very eloquently) when he said 'Research on pregnancies is really crappy, Em.  Nobody wants to do testing on a pregnant woman.'  He's got a great point.  I certainly wouldn't sign up for any research studies while pregnant . . . would you?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

29 Weeks Update

It's official . . . I'm incubating two large bowling balls.  The babies seem more active, though it's quite possible I'm just starting to feel them both as they grow bigger and run out of room in my belly.  

Got my first prenatal massage last week.  If only a 30-hour nap were included in the massage package.  The whole experience was wonderful, unfortunately the aches and pains of twin pregnancy came back a mere day later.

Today, Dave and I went to the pool for the first time.  Everyone's been telling me I'd love the feel of water.  I must say it was nice.  While I still felt pregnant (based on the glowing reviews I wasn't sure what to expect), I did feel an immediate release of weight off my pelvic region.  I could actually lift my leg in front of me without feeling any pain.  Also, I was able to do some great leg stretches.  

Had my routine ob/gyn check-up.  It was okay, my iron is still borderline at 9.9.  The doctor recommended I get some over-the-counter iron supplements.   The babies' heart rates were very strong and my blood pressure was still rock solid.  

I was told, again, that I need to prepare for a c-section delivery.  This doctor was less gentle in discussing vaginal twin births.  He said it was too risky even if both heads were down during labor.  He even went so far as reminding me I did IVF to have these babies, I should be focusing on delivering them the safest way possible (thanks Captain Obvious, I completely forgot the uber uncomfortable and expensive IVF procedure completed last October).  Unfortunately, there is a UK study floating out there which claims c-sections are safer than vaginal delivery for twin births (I'll post more on that topic later).

I'm officially in the third trimester!  Based on my pregnancy book readings, my goal is to make it at least to 34 weeks.  Apparently most of the major development is completed by week 34 and the babies should be okay if they planned their 'coming out' party that week.  Obviously we want 37 weeks (full-term for twins) but I'll settle for 34 weeks if need be.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Gestational Diabetes

Well folks I failed my glucose test again, which means I have to take the 3 hour test first thing Monday morning.  Basically I can't eat anything after midnight the night before.  I get a quick blood test as soon as I show up, this tests my 'fasting' glucose level.  Then I drink the sugar syrup and give blood every hour for the next three hours.  

If one of the 4 blood samples is abnormal then I might be encouraged to change my diet and exercise routine.  If 2 or more blood samples are abnormal then I will officially have gestational diabetes and probably start a treatment plan.

For those of you curious, gestational diabetes affects about 4% of all pregnant women, the risk is higher with twins (surprise!).  While there is no concrete information on why non-diabetic women end up with this during pregnancy there are some theories.  I'll paraphrase what is documented on the American Diabetes Association website (feel free to read for your self at

Apparently certain hormones from the placenta block the function of insulin in a mother's body.  It's called insulin resistance and makes it difficult for a mother to use her insulin.  When insulin is not being used, glucose builds up in the blood stream instead of getting filtered out of the blood and converted to energy (must be why I'm always so tired).

On the plus side, if I have gestational diabetes it will most likely go away after delivery.  On the negative side, it could affect the babies in this last bit of development.  These high levels of glucose floating in my blood stream can pass the placenta and enter the babies blood stream.  Their little pancreases begin working overtime to convert this excess glucose into energy.  With too much energy stored it becomes fat, so the babies begin getting fatter faster which could lead to preterm labor.  It also could mean the babies become at risk for childhood obesity because there was too much insulin in their bodies at birth.  

I've already begun to alter my diet in hopes of passing the 3-hour test.  Dave's decided to join me on this diet (at least when he's home, I hear he ate pizza yesterday for lunch).