Triplets: First Trimester FOOD

As I said at the start of this blog journey, part of the reason I wanted to write was to help others who might be facing this challenge. I call it that because I think each trimester is going to have it’s own little list of joys and hardships. I personally had a hard time finding much information out on the web about what to expect and landed on a lot of blogs (some uplifting and some heartbreaking).

For the first trimester I found myself mostly looking for answers to the challenge of eating. FOOOD. What to eat, how much, how often and how to balance all of that when I’m experiencing no appetite, a queasy stomach, and no energy. I was told to expect being 2-3 times more tired, sick and big with triplets. So far that’s been true. Even so, I didn’t puke once during the first trimester. I didn’t get sick with my first pregnancy so I was prepared for the worst. Even without puking, I felt horrid. I remember feeling “hungry-sick” with my first pregnancy. That’s the only way I can describe it. But this time around it was magnified to a point that I never expected. The further along I got the worse it got – to the point where I was literally blacking out on the kitchen floor as I was going to grab food.

SO : I asked for help! I went to a health professional at the clinic to get some food/diet/calorie suggestions and talked to a great friend for advice as well. Both had some wonderful suggestions. I was told that my average calorie intake should increase by 300 calories PER baby. That put me at 2900 calories!!! I started taking notes and counting calories and felt as if it was one of the only things I could actually control to help these babies and myself. Yet it seemed impossible. I know – it’s odd to hear that eating MORE calories was a challenge, but when you feel like crud and don’t have the energy to actually make anything for yourself it was really hard. High calorie sweets weren’t top of my list of choices because I wasn’t craving them at all and I didn’t feel it was a healthy choice. They actually made me feel worse if I did eat them. It’s still a challenge today at 17 weeks and I imagine it will continue. My only advantage today is I have a bit more energy to make things and respond to that hungry feeling.

Things I did to increase my calories while still attempting to eat healthy food: Whole milk (although I was warned it could slow down digestion – which was already a problem), real butter, oatmeal (made with milk instead of water), protein before bed and first thing in the morning (I was SO tired of string cheese and peanut butter but it works), carnation instant breakfast (I still have this along with toast every morning BEFORE I get out of bed and found if I didn’t do this I’d pass out), greek yogurt (I had a really hard time finding one that I liked but I kept searching til I did [love yoplait and chobani] and put granola on it when I had a hard time gagging on food), bananas, spinach with egg and cheese on a bagel, “protein pancakes” (you’ll have to ask my sis-in-law for this recipe – she made them for me and froze them for a quick meal/snack), protein powder or powdered milk added to shakes or oatmeal, shakes shakes shakes (these helped pound down a ton of calories while soothing my tummy at the same time), ice cream, granola/breakfast bars, trail mix, pasta with chicken and white sauce (hamburger and red sauce made me sick), cold chicken as a snack, Fiber One cereal, granola. Anything that you can have on hand for an instant snack or carry along with you is a good thing to stock up on. I gave up on the calorie counting after a very short time because it was nearly impossible to keep track of and I just couldn’t balance it. I needed to focus more on the protein and constant small meals instead of the calories and knew that whenever I had a chance to add calories I did. I focused on at least 3 full glasses of milk a day.

I went to my first OB appointment feeling like I had an ok handle on things but she surprised me when she commented on my weight gain. I was right within the goal of the health professional from the clinic but my OB said that the recommendations from her perspective were different. She’d rather see me gain 1-2 pounds a week. This especially rotated around the fact that I gained a massive amount of fluid with my first pregnancy (I gained a total of 70+ pounds and lost 35 pounds of water weight in 6 days! I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight within 4-6 months). I immediately changed to 2% milk and felt like my digestion was better as a result. I focused less on adding calories and more on eating a well-rounded, high-protein diet that kept me full and feeling ok. By my next appointment a few weeks later my weight goals were back on track.

More quick advice: Ask for help! If family and friends are willing to make some small portioned freezer meals or a batch of soup for you – accept it graciously! If people ask how they can help in those early weeks – this is a great place to start. Having something quick that you can grab and eat immediately makes all the difference. Next: Listen to your body immediately. If you feel that you are getting hungry act immediately. I got into trouble several times with this. Typically people can either ignore that feeling until a meal time comes around or can hold off til dinner by having a small snack. Well this wasn’t the case for me. Having a toddler in the house made this especially challenging for me as I was used to eating mini meals with her and functioning fine on that. Now I had to strategically plan a second lunch after she went to take a nap so my daughter wasn’t eating all day along with me. Same applied for bedtime. I’d eat again immediately after she went to bed. Have food with you at ALL times.

Thanks!

Status

Thanks for the positive feedback everyone! Most of you have likely seen all of the latest pictures and videos on facebook but I’ll try to get them on here in the future as well. Maybe I can figure out an album or gallery or something on here to update. I’m still learning how to use all of this stuff. Easier than I thought though! I look forward to your prayers and support as we continue this adventure. We appreciate your support.

Life Unexpected – The Adventure Begins

September 15th 2011:
IUI – intrauterine insemination cycle #6. We had a discussion with the doctor about our next step and he suggested exploratory surgery.

September 29th 2011:
Pregnancy test came back positive. HCG level = 368. The nurse seemed a bit over-excited when she shared that number. I called to schedule the second lab and the nurse openly laughed when I told her the number. Anything above 25 is considered positive and I had tested on the earliest possible day to get a reading.
Nora and I jumped into the car and met Nate for a surprise lunch. I shared the happy news in the parking lot where he works and we felt sort of numb for the day. I mentioned the high HCG levels and thoughts of twins started tumbling through our heads.

October 3rd 2011:
The second HCG level = 2331. They were looking for the original level to hopefully double. Instead it’s more than 6x the original 368. Now we’re really wondering what’s going on but we sort of push it to the back of our thoughts.
A few days later we had dinner with Nate’s family and were able to tell many of them the good news in person. Nora was having trouble sharing with her cousins that night and Nate’s Mom mentioned that the other kids were like that as siblings at her age as well. Nate said that we’d have to start working with Nora right away then – and Kathy actually caught on to his intention right away. I barely got what he was saying!

October 14th 2011: (6 weeks)
At 6 weeks we went in for our first ultrasound. With the prior ectopic pregnancy in my history they check the placement of the baby very early on. We were overjoyed to see a heartbeat right away when they began the ultrasound. YES! But – then we saw more. Two? The ultrasound technician kept measuring and taking pictures and measuring the heart rate. Over and over and over. Why was she doing this so many times? There must be two?! Oh my goodness. TWO? She stopped her measurements and looked up and said, “Well, it looks like there’s THREE!” This is when my first panic attack began.

Triplets - 6 weeks

Big Sister

The perinatologist, was called into the room and could likely sense our fears. She suggested we return a week later to talk in person about what all of this meant. We were warned that with two of the babies having somewhat low heart rates that she expected we’d have a 50/50 chance that two of them would make it through the week.

Nate and I got in the car and looked back at the empty seats in the van and then at each other and both sat there dazed for a while. These little moments continued throughout the day. We picked up Nora from my cousin’s house and shared the news with her – another panic attack. She gave me a huge hug and looked me in the eyes and said, “it’s all going to be ok” (before we left for this appointment she gave me a little polished stone with the word “miracles” etched into it). I called my closest friends and had the panic attack of a lifetime. They somehow interpreted what was going on through sobs and supported me with hopeful thoughts and comforting words. I was in complete shock. Happiness and fear were tossing back and forth in my mind. I sat at home sewing flannel baby blankets while Nate made apple/rhubarb jam. I stayed up late making a “Big Sister” shirt for Nora.

October 15th 2011:
My nephew, Ethan, had his 10th birthday party and we were seeing my side of the family in person. Only my Mom and Dad knew that we were pregnant (and Mom thought she was pretty smart knowing the “secret” – little did she know!). We walked through the door with the camera rolling and caught Auntie Amy at the door. She tried to keep it together after seeing Nora’s shirt so we could make it upstairs. We made it to the top of the steps and the rest of the family saw her shirt and reacted in a variety of ways. Some speechless with tears and others jumping and screaming. Quite entertaining and emotional.
Shortly after the news we asked everyone to have a seat in the living room for more news. It’s no secret that we’d done infertility treatments to get here (see our About page for that long story). I’m sure several of them were thinking twins. We had Nora bring a little doll backpack over to my Mom and asked Nora to show her how many babies were in the bag. She took each one out counting as she went 1…2…3… and everyone’s jaw dropped. Mom’s hand went to her mouth in shock as did mine – which started yet another panic attack on my part. I couldn’t stop shaking. The rest of the day they processed things in a variety of ways just as we had been doing. Some things were scary and others humorous and exciting all at once. What a day!

October 20th 2011: (7 weeks)
We returned to the clinic for our second ultrasound and walked in with tentative steps. How do you walk into a room to hear if your babies are still alive? How do you look at that with hopes that they’re all ok and yet fearful that they’re all ok? At this point I was still so scared of what this meant for me physically. I suffered with post traumatic stress disorder after nearly losing my life to HELLP syndrome with my first pregnancy and now I was facing another very stressful pregnancy. At the same time – these were 3 babies that we very much wanted. A big family that we hoped and dreamed of.
The tech began her scan and there they were – 3 strong heart beats.
Next came the appointment to talk with the perinatologist. She sat us down at a small, round table and slid a piece of paper in front of us. It outlined all of the facts and figures about what our odds were for delivery during each week of pregnancy. 24 weeks, 28 weeks, 32 weeks. What the survivability was. What we’d expect for critical health concerns and major health concerns at each week. How our odds would be decreased if we considered selective reduction and her support of that choice if we decided to do that. Every fact and figure was clearly typed in black and white and stared back at us.
The doctor made one statement that haunted me for days, (paraphrased from memory) “It would be terribly sad for you to lose these babies before 24 weeks (there’s a 15-30% chance of natural miscarriage up to 24 weeks which is the point of possible survivability for babies), but if they were born between 24-28 weeks and survived, you’d have 3 very sick babies to take care of for the rest of your life. Not one sick baby. Three.”
I left that appointment with a new, very real fear – but not for myself – for the three new lives I was now responsible for.