Monday, August 31, 2009

34 Weeks

I'm trying to not list excuses for the downfall in appearance that has occurred between 22 and 34 weeks. I want week 22 back! No, wait, I want week 0. On the other hand, bring on the swelling! Keep cooking, babies!!!

No new news. All is good with mama and babies. More doc appointments later this week. I will have a non-stress test on Thursday and weekly from now on.

There is a poll on the right sidebar to vote on what week you think the babies will come. This should be fun.

Have a great week!!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Plan for Dad

Dad had his first appointment at MD Anderson on Friday.  His doctor is Dr. Katharine Pisters.  She told him that about 1 of 5 lung cancer patients are non-smokers.  Many of these non-smokers have a gene mutation referred to as EGFR, or Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor gene.  In order to find out if Dad has this specific mutation, he would need to do another biopsy and wait 2-3 weeks for a report.  The other option is to start a drug (pill) treatment called Tarceva, which is specifically designed to treat this EGFR mutation.  

Dad had some bloodwork done and a chest X-ray that day.  He goes back in on Monday for CT scans and a MRI brain scan.  They will use the results as a baseline, then will re-test/scan in 2 weeks to determine the effectiveness of the Tarceva, which he will start taking on Tuesday.

Although the cost of this medication has gone down over the past few years, it is still outrageously expensive at $2500 per month.  Hopefully when they go back on Monday, they will find out if their insurance will cover any or all of the cost.  This particular drug is known to cause a rash and possible diarrhea, along with a whole list of other things that are printed on the drug info sheet (like any other medication).  Some patients have no side effects.

When Dad is re-scanned in 2 weeks, if it is determined that the Tarceva was ineffective, he will have to do Chemo through IV.  Strangely enough, IV Chemo is more expensive but it is covered by insurance.  I, and we, feel very good and confident about this Tarceva treatment.  It's great that he isn't having to start with chemo, and hopefully he may not have to experience chemo or surgery at all.

So, in summary: 
Monday - more scans & tests.
Tuesday - start 2-week Tarceva treatment.
In 2 weeks - new scans & tests to determine effectiveness of the Tarceva.

I haven't been told specifically what to pray for at this point by Mom or Dad, but I am praying that the mutation that he has to be easily treatable by Tarceva and that he has minimal side effects.  I am also still praying for his strenght and peace of mind, and for Mom's load to be light.

On another *note* concerning Dad...
I went by yesterday and was handed a stack of cards and notes that have been sent to him.  It seriously took me 15 minutes just to quickly glimpse at each card in the stack.  He told me that he has another stack of cards in his shop, too.  What a blessing to have such caring and prayerful friends that would take the time to send those notes of encouragement his way!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

33 Weeks

Wow!  That's a lot of me!  So sorry about that.
Baby Center says that they should be a little over 4 pounds each now, and about 17 inches long.  I see and hear their heartbeats each week at my regular doc appointments.  They are still stretching, pushing, kicking, and playing a lot in there.  I am still feeling very good.  I have regular pregnant-with-twins symptoms: so much swelling (my 5 1/2 ring finger is now size 8!), slow-moving, constant bathroom trips, heavy breathing (gotta get oxygen to those boys!), snacking, etc.  Really, though, this has been fun.  I might be a little uncomfortable, but God has really blessed me and the babies (and Todd, too) with smooth sailing so far! 
A few weeks ago, I started to do some research on when most twin pregnancies deliver.  Of course, I got varying reports, but some said the average is about 33 weeks.  I feel so good knowing that I'm in that average.  Of course, I would like to make it to 37 weeks or longer, but knowing that I'm so close to "normal" is such a relief.
Being pregnant with twins automatically puts me in the "high risk" category for pregnancy.  Even though I have been doing so well physically, my doctor is being cautious about my daily activities so I will not go into labor sooner than I need to.  I may have said all of this before, but stressful situations leading to high blood pressure is the enemy.  Of course, he wants me to take it easy, keep my feet up often, etc.  Both docs have been so glad that I've had all summer to relax.  They (and I) think that Summer may have been a key factor in my doing so well.  All of that said, Doc has officially put me on bed rest.  He really does not want me to be at work.  I set up my classroom, went to in-service week, did meet-the-teacher, but started the year with a sub today.  Whoever my students are, they are very lucky to have Mrs. C as their long-term sub.  I taught with her for several years, she was team leader for some of those years, and retired in '08.  Really, I feel so good about having Mrs. C - I know they have the best start to Kindergarten with her being their teacher.  

So, since I'm home, I have taken on the new job of trying to save us more money on our groceries.  I'm sure all of you know that Todd and I did Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University.  We have a strict budget and categorized envelopes that we use for groceries, restaurants, auto repair, home improvement, babies, etc.  Groceries and restaurants are usually empty first every 2 weeks.  So, I'm learning the world of coupons!!  I will take any suggestions about this new venture.  I found a lot at and had a few mailers that I saved with some good coupons.  Where do you find good coupons?  Any tricks to the system?  Any ways to maximize coupon values?  What's the deal with Kroger "doubling or tripling" the coupon?  There is obviously a learning curve to this, but I'm excited about it.  
I have been really good with keeping up with my many doctors' appointments.  I registered for the childbirth class, breastfeeding class, and infant safety & CPR class at a local hospital.  Guess what I missed?  Yep!  Childbirth class!!  It was this past Saturday.  I thought it was this coming Saturday.  I had it written on the calendar and had post-it notes up, but I totally missed it.  The next class isn't until Sept. 13th, which will probably be way too late.  One of my friends, Amy, suggested that we could rent a series about childbirth from Netflix.  I was saving this for just in case we couldn't make the class; so I guess we're renting, thanks to my brain of moosh.  Thanks goodness for back-up plans.  Now I just have to remember to rent it!!
There have been so many of you tell me that you are keeping my dad in your prayers.  Some have even said that he has been added to your church's prayer list.  We are so grateful for your prayers.  Thoughts are nice and appreciated, but prayers are powerful!!  Please remember Dad and Mom this Friday as they meet his doctor for consultation at MD Anderson.  We are expecting a great miracle.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I could have waited until Monday, but these questions were on my mind NOW. And who knows if I'll have a mind come Monday. Ha!

Question 1:
What last minute things did you do (or what would you do) to prepare yourself/your house for a baby?

Question 2:
And only because I heard this about 10 times tonight at Meet The Teacher... Are you someone that wants to be contacted when we go to deliver the babies or just after? You know, a call list or something of that nature. I'm starting to consider how we'll get the info out when the time comes. Of course, we'll contact family first... I had a friend that updated her blog (or someone did it for her) during the delivery of her child. It was pretty cool. So, if you want to be contacted, will you let me know (leave a comment or email)?

Question 3:
What other questions should I ask?

Monday, August 17, 2009

32 Weeks

Holy Cow!
Todd & I planned on touring the Labor & Delivery wing of the hospital where I will deliver. We missed the guided tour, but since they were not busy, we were lucky enough to get a private tour. A RN showed us a Labor/Delivery/Recovery room, answered a lot of questions (even though we really didn't know what to ask), and got us into the NICU. We got to see the tiny babies in the NICU and met most of the nurses on duty that day. They even called over the neonatologist to come meet us. He was so nice and volunteered some valuable information. He had a foreign accent, so it took me a minute to understand when he asked if I want him to "Cut the weenies"! Hahaha!! We were just completely taken back by how very kind, calm, and generous everyone was. Honestly, usually when you deal with medical staff, they all seem to be in a hurry, distracted, and unconcerned. Their jobs are very demanding, so I understand that. But, this experience was so great! They told us how lucky we were to have come at a slow time - we really were. And, oh, those babies! Be still my heart!

Our most recent visit with the specialist (Maternal-Fetal Medicine) revealed that Baby A was 3lb. 4oz., and Baby B was 3lb. 9oz. That was about 2 weeks ago, so I'm sure they are closer to 4 pounds now. They are still doing great, no problems, right on track! Their mama is doing fine, too. I don't mean to complain, but the sheer bigness is starting to get a little uncomfortable; still nothing unbearable. The little guys are squirming and pushing all the time. I love seeing my tummy shift and ripple with their movements. (But I won't love seeing any tummy ripples when they're out!! Ha!) They are not both head-down (vertex) anymore. I guess they are still finding room to adjust thier positions. I get a different report on that every time I go to a doc.

Here's what they may look like this week:

By now, your baby weighs 3.75 pounds (pick up a large jicama) and is about 16.7 inches long, taking up a lot of space in your uterus. You're gaining about a pound a week and roughly half of that goes right to your baby. In fact, she'll gain a third to half of her birth weight during the next 7 weeks as she fattens up for survival outside the womb. She now has toenails, fingernails, and real hair (or at least respectable peach fuzz). Her skin is becoming soft and smooth as she plumps up in preparation for birth.

Some very sweet ladies from our church got together and threw me, Nathan, & Logan an amazing baby shower last week. I am still beside myself with how much they went out of their way to make a special day for me and the babies! Here are a few pictures of the event...

The beautiful table with an amazing diaper cake filled with bath goodies (Awesome, Geran!), and the very kind hostesses. (Click on picture to enlarge, then arrow back to return to the blog)

So many gifts!!!

Some of the guests

It really was a great day and a beautiful shower. I can't thank the hostesses enough for all of your hard work and kindness you showed to me. Thank you to the guests for your presence & presents (ha!). We are so blessed to have such loving friends.

Some of you may remember that Grandma D. gave me the rocker that she rocked her babies in when she died a year ago. She encouraged me to have it re-upholstered to make it my own, so I did just that. I really like how it turned out and it goes well with our living room decor, but it will always be her rocker. I miss her so much.

You may not know, but Todd & I prayed for a very long time for God to bless us with a family. Grandma knew how we longed for Him to say yes. She asked my dad specifically, a day before she passed, while she struggled to speak in the hospital, if I was pregnant yet. Dad sent me a text asking me if I was, but I was not. I texted him back and said that she could help more with that when she got to Heaven. I will never forget her compassion. Rocking my little blessings in this chair where she rocked her babies will mean so much.

Inservice week for teachers started today. We're back in the grind of things. Hope you are having a great start to your week.

Please keep the prayers going for Dad!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dad has a Date

It seems that when you want to get into one of the best cancer centers in the world, there is some waiting that must be done. Apparently many people want the best cancer treatment. :-) Luckily, dad was finally called (thanks in part to some "connections") and has set the closest date available, August 28th, for his first consultation with his new doctor at MD Anderson. We don't expect that any treatments will start that day, but at least he's "in" now.

In the mean time, Dad has been staying busy working on my brother, Steven's VW while Steven is in town. He has also had many friends stopping over for visits, which Dad loves. Dad is so blessed to have many friends from many facets of his life. Even before his diagnosis, Dad has always had people coming & going from the house. It's a cool thing.

I know so many of you are keeping Dad in your prayers, which we cannot thank you enough for. Another note for today: Today is Dad's mom, my Grandma's one-year anniversary of her passing. Many have been in thought of her and remembering the impact she had on our lives today. She and Grandpa are missed everyday.

On a much less important note, I'm not sure if anyone cares or noticed that I completely missed my 31 week blog. Oh well, I will just have to forgive myself. Week 32 will be up Monday... hopefully... after our first day back for teacher in-services.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dad's Diagnosis

Dad heard back from his doctor on Monday. He confirmed that Dad does, in fact, have metastasized lung cancer that has spread to his liver and lymph nodes. This was determined by the biopsy they took from his liver last week. His doctor has forwarded his case to MD Anderson. We now wait for MD Anderson to contact him concerning his treatment options. Waiting is hard. I'm pretty sure Dad feels the need to get in there and fight this thing ASAP.

I was waiting to post this information until we knew more from MD Anderson so I could give a more complete report. Mom & Dad expected to hear from them Monday. Maybe they will hear something today. I will report back again when I know more.

This is the same type of lung cancer that his mother fought. If you know us or him at all, you probably know that Dad has never smoked a day in his life. Although this diagnosis is obviously serious, we still remain very optimistic and completely trusting in God's plan for Dad and all of us. Dad has a lot of things going for him: One of the best cancer centers in the world on his case, a huge support system of family & friends, a healthy, active lifestyle, and most importantly, a loving God.

Again, we all appreciate your prayers for Dad as he waits and faces the difficulty of fighting this cancer. Please pray for his strength and peace of mind. I will continue to inform as I learn more.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

30 Weeks (and 2 days)

So, here I am, 30 weeks, 2 days, 2 babies, and it looks like a torpedo is trying to make its way through my belly! I am still feeling really good. Pregnant women with twins are supposed to gain about 40 pounds (according to the books I have read) and I'm well on my way. Are you ready for this? I have gained 32 pounds in 30 weeks!! Oh my! That extra weight sure makes it harder to turn over at night.
I went to another of my bi-weekly appointments at 29 weeks with my regular doc. During the ultrasound for heart tones, I asked the tech when I should expect to do a glucose test. I had read that these are usually given about 28 weeks, and nobody at the Dr. office had mentioned doing one. She asked someone, then I got a call the same day to set a time up for my 1-hour glucose test. Gee, I wonder what prompted them to call? :-) I did not get any instructions from the doc's office except to be there at 8:30. I wondered if I needed to fast or do any other things to prepare, so I just researched it online. Apparently, some places require fasting after midnight and some don't. I fasted.
I failed the 1-hour test. A nurse called and very briefly told me that my numbers were "a little high" and that "you will need to do a 3-hour test. Oh, and I'm calling in a prescription for you." Me: "Wait! What is the prescription for?" She had to ask, then reported that it's because I'm anemic. End of conversation.
I figured out that I guess I needed to call back to see when I could come in for the 3-hour test. So, I called back, scheduled to come in the next morning, I asked if I should fast and she said yes. End of conversation.
I went in the next morning, they drew blood first this time, I drink 100mg of the glucose drink, turned it in at 9:00. I had asked the receptionist if I needed to camp out in the waiting room for all 3 hours and she said that I could "come & go". Great! I mentioned to the girl that drew my blood that I was glad that I didn't have to wait in the waiting room for 3 hours and she said, "yeah, as long as you're back about 10-15 minutes before your next blood draw." Cool. No problem. I headed out and another lady says, "So you'll be back about 10:00." Me: "No. I'm a 3-hour." Her: "Oh, okay."
I went to Mom & Dad's to lay down since the glucose made me feel very woosy with a little unsettled stomach and a headache. About 1 hour and 15 minutes later, my cell rings and the Dr.'s office tells me that I'm 10 minutes late for my first blood draw. What!? But I'm a 3-hour! "Yes, but we draw your blood each hour for 3 hours." Ends up this test is void and I have to do it again. The lady said that she could tell that I didn't understand that I needed to be back in 1 hour for the first blood draw when I was leaving the office, but she "didn't want to get involved."
Well, I really wish that lady would have gotten involved. NOBODY at the doctor's office told me the procedure the the 3-hour test. I thought I would go back in 3 hours. How should I know? I am not a medical professional and I should not be expected to know what to do on a procedure I have never done before. I told them that I realize these things are routine for them, but I've never been pregnant before, never had glucose tests before, and as a patient, I should be informed by the medical staff about things like this. The world had a very MAD pregnant, hungry Natalie that day.
I went back in this Monday and re-did the 3-hour. Don't know the results yet.
So very sorry about that rant.

I made a valance for the boys' room. I have found that I kind of like having projects and am not too bad at sewing straight lines. After I made the valance, I decided to make some jazzed-up burp cloths. Apparently these are the "in" thing, especially if they are monogrammed or have ribbon, etc. I don't have many burp cloths and I don't think I can have too many. Anyway, it was fun to do and now my babies can burp, spit up and drool in style. :-)

Click picture to enlarge (then arrow back to return to blog). I'm sorry about my overuse of collages, but they are so much easier to upload. You can click on any of them to make them bigger.

We have had a very busy summer week around here. Todd has been doing a photography class at church for Art Camp in the mornings this week. He has really enjoyed it. He is printing some of the pictures that will be on display at the "Art Show" at the end of the week, and the outcome is just amazing. He has taught the kids some cool skills and their pictures are great!
K1 & K2 are visiting their Mamaw & Timpa for the week. We got lucky enough to have them over one night and they spent most of the next day with us. We got donuts, went swimming, ate out and went grocery shopping. It was a full, fun day. I just wish I could spend more time with these sweeties. They were so thoughtful and aware to help! There were times that K1 would take something out of my hands to help me so that I would have to carry anything. I am so impressed with these girls and how very nice, polite, and considerate they are. Their mommy & daddy have done so good.

Tuesday was Todd's birthday!! He's caught up with me for the time being - 28!! Mom very generously offered to have a celebration at her house with Todd's favorite meal: pizza. Oh, and he got ice cream cake from Culver's. We invited some nearby family over and just had a great time together. Todd reported that this was the best birthday ever!

My next doctors appointments are tomorrow with the reg. doc. and Friday with the specialist. The babies should be about 3 pounds each. I don't know if I have written this before, but my goal is to carry the babies to at least 37 weeks, but most twin pregnancies deliver around 33 weeks (according to what I've read in various places). My next 3 weeks are going to get pretty demanding. I plan to talk to my doctors about setting up my classroom (starting Monday), staff development, and starting school. I don't know what will come of it, but I do know that my specialist has really been appreciative of the fact that I have been able to take it easy over the summer. I know they will want me to be very careful as the risk of preterm labor is ever increasing.

If you haven't read the previous blog about Dad and you don't know his latest health news, please go read that. We are so thankful for your prayers on his behalf as we are expecting a miracle!


Most of you already know that my dad, Tim, was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year. He underwent radiation treatments and is now clear of prostate cancer. His recovery went quite well. Dad is very active. He plays tennis many days a week. He works on restoring his Volkswagens very frequently, and is usually always found busy stringing tennis rackets, working on the yard, visiting with friends, etc. His doctor said that he is a great candidate to be a poster-patient for prostate radiation treatments & recovery. We are so thankful to God that he came through that time of prostate cancer so well!

A few weeks ago Dad had some pain in his upper side that was really bothering him. Dad is very pro-active in his health and felt it necessary to visit his doctor about the pain. I think Dad was pretty sure that it was a muscle pain, since he had been working pretty hard lifting a lot in the shop while working on a VW, but he wanted to be sure. Doc gave him some meds - muscle relaxer, I think - and took an X-ray.

Some days passed since the X-ray. Doc informed Dad that he detected a spot on his lung in the X-ray. He wanted Dad to come back for a CT scan. (Dad, I'm not sure if I am getting the details exactly right. I expect that you will correct me promptly!) The results from that scan came back the same day revealing that Dad has some spots/masses not only on his lung, but also on his liver and lymph nodes.

Doc wanted to peruse these spots without delay. He had Dad back the next day for blood and scheduled a biopsy that was taken from his liver yesterday. We now wait for the biopsy results that should be revealed in a couple of days.

We are all concerned, but optimistic and trusting in an expected miracle (thank you Rene) for Dad. We all believe that God is in complete control and will always do what's right for his children, no matter what that may be. We all would greatly appreciate your prayers for Dad's health, and for his peace of mind.

I will update with more information as I learn it.