I have now made it to the point in our pregnancy where I FINALLY figured out that, DUH, I was getting bigger by the millisecond now that I'd POPPED and I'd better start snapping some pics soon to have some sort of baseline to compare myself to! I think I waited about 3 weeks too long, but oh well. Better late than never in my book. And, amazingly enough, I'm pretty sure that it took my research through other mother's of multiples blogs to finally have that brick clock me in the noggin.
So, in my quest to show a fairly recent pre-quad pregnancy picture of myself, I discovered that I MAYBE have one to three pictures with me in them. Total. In the midst of our hundreds and hundreds of pictures taken over the years... What? You don't belive me? Then you must not be a mom (I do NOT mean that in a bad way) because almost every other mom I know has mentioned at some point that they are the ghost members of their families too. Why? Oh. That's easy. Because, for the MOST PART, mom's are the ones who are all about grabbing the camera to click a photo op. Now, I KNOW there are the exceptions to this rule out there. And, if you are one of them, keep you nice hubby to your bloody self, the rest of us like the fact that this gives us something to complain about with our otherwise awesome hubbies... hee, hee... I actually think that Melissa Kunz was the first one to bring this to my attention at our first annual Techie camping trip (is that the last one that you Kunz' have made it to? Seems you are busy have babies all the other years... hee, hee... and now who's laughing? Are we tied yet?). I think by this point her and Tyler had about 5 kids, or 9 kids... or SOMETHING like that... anyhow, Jeremy and I were the ultra-naive first-time parents with little Aiden nicely tucked in his baby bjorn for most of the trip nursing up a storm (pretty sure he put on about 12 lbs that weekend). It was a GREAT source of entertainment for us to watch our 'veteran parent' friends with 2 or more children and see how the different parenting styles struck us and influenced how we would want to be as parents. I won't go into too much detail, but we'll just say that we came away from that weekend with the entire Kunz family up on some sort of pedestal. They had kids running everywhere (within eye and ear shot - no safety concerns what so ever) half dressed, diaper only, birthday suit - you name it. And the kids were having a BLAST!! Of course. And the parents? THEY WERE TOO!!! They knew enough to know what to worry about at that point. And a little God-given dirt on a play ground or volleyball court or beach sand was NOT worth their stress. Melissa and Tyler sat back like the parenting pros they were, and still are (because 4 years later THEY AIN"T DONE! YAHOO!)with brews in hand enjoying their family and friends. They were NOT the family with the child who wasn't allowed to walk across the volleyball court ("You might get dirty!") and constantly on edge because their children had to change clothes 4x/day from the "camping dirt"... no siree. They were living it up. Jeremy and I decided right then and there WE WANTED TO BE LIKE YOU, KUNZ'!!! Wow. Feels good to get that out. I hope I didn't embarass anyone, but we feel the same way. As long as everyone is safe, being nice, and not licking the floor in a Walmart (now THAT's germs... we are talking about god-given dirt here people, DIFFERENT!) - life is good.
How did I get on that tangent? Did I warn you about those too? I hope so because there are bound to be more... Oh yeah, pictures. Melissa had brought like 5,000 pics of her family over the past few years and I began notice (around picture 1,856) that I hadn't seen but one of Melissa's finger's in a picture with her hubby and kids yet. WHAT? So she gently, and very matter-of-factly explained that she wasn't IN any of the pics because she was always the one TAKING the pics. (bless her heart - she honestly did not seem to hold any resentment) I think she might have even noted that she was nervous to die for fear that her children would think they were motherless for the first 5 years of their lives because, well, she was non-existent on film!! BUT I DID IT, Melissa!! I FOUND YOU IN A PIC... granted, you are way in the background, and there are about 30 other people in the pic, and you can't REALLY see your face or anything... buuuutttt... let's focus on the positive, right? That's Melissa, folks! Waaaaaay in the back behind the blue chair. The cutie-patootie (not that you can tell from this pic) with the short blonde hair. And, as proud as I was for finding this, look. Your hubby upstaged you again in the foreground... men.
OK, moving on... Sorry for all the skin here -WHITE skin at that. I somehow must have managed to swipe this picture from Jodi Stopyak or something (she's great for that!), because it's from that same weekend, a family photo of US, and I'm IN it!?! Figure that out. Sorry if it's a bit more than you bargained for... trust me, mama T needed a tan come July 2004 with a 3-1/2 month old baby, but it's all I could find from that whole weekend with me in it. Oh, and WITHOUT Aiden in his most-favorite nursing position (note cankles... this boy was 5lbs even at birth!!). But I guess I figured that you'd all be able to stomach our whitey selves better than any boob shots I could've shared. Opps. There I go again - too much info...
And then, fast forward, here I am (BELLY PIC - BELLY PIC - BELLY PIC) week 16 of our quadruplet pregnancy:
YIKES! Thankfully by this point I was mostly past the naseua - it was very hit or miss (although when it HIT - look the f-out!!). I decided to take all my belly pics at night right before bed. Why? Well, I suppose if you've never grown at this astronomical weight it might come as a suprise to know that I am WAY bigger at the end of the day than in the morning. Yep. It's true - I've even taken measurements to confirm. In fact on this particular day I measured 33.5" in the morning and 34" when I took this pic. SERIOUSLY!!
The next week we had our BIG ultrasound with Dr. Jelsema. It's normally what is considered the 20 week ultrasound with a singleton pregnancy (what a weird term to throw around) - but because of the number of babies in thar' a growin' - the research shows that they actually mature a bit faster. They don't have a scientific explanation for this, according to what I've read and seen anyhow, which includes the following books: 'The Multiple Pregnancy Sourcebook' and 'When You're Expecting Twins, Triplets, and Quads' (thanks Tonia Nem!) as well as my 'Into the Womb - the Miracle of Multiples' DVD by National Geographic - GET THIS! It's AMAZING!! But they do know that the higher the number of multiples in the womb, the faster they mature in the earlier stages of pregnancy. This , of course, is according to God's perfect design in my book... knowing that these little miracles will be born much earlier than a single pregnancy (in most cases) and therefore NEED to mature faster to get ready to support itself outside the womb sooner!
My mom came up again (she rocks!) to be with me for the ultrasound and then Jeremy was going with me to the appointment with Dr. Jelsema the next day. Yes, our appointments with our multiples specialist are actually on two separate days (in addition to the 2 other ultrasounds/month that I get with my regular OB). We have to do this because he is only in Traverse City 2 times/month and we "Compromise too much of his schedule" to have our ultrasounds done the same day as the appointment with doc to review. I don't mean that in a bitter way - that's actually what they told us. But the truth is that (2) back-to-back trips to Traverse City are MUCH BETTER than having to tool down to Grand Rapids so we are just glad that he's up here at all!! Anyhow, Jeremy decided it would be more appropriate to be at the meeting with our doctor to find out how our babies look and address any conerns. My mom would be in the ultrasound (all 3.5 hours of it!!) for the "fun" part =)
The night before the big ultrasound was d-day for my belly pic and my mom insisted on doing them while we were outside playing with the kids (I must've looked good and prego to her?). So, they look different because: #1 - I'm not 2' away from a mirror trying to negotiate the pic myself (is that a modified 'thinker' pose? niiiiiccceeee...) and #2 - it's NOT AT NIGHT!! I'm telling you - you'll agree after comparing this pic to the 16 week one!! I think I actually look smaller because it's the middle of the day!! Or not... who knows.... oh - and the DEER IS FAKE, PEOPLE. We are hilbillies - if I forgot to mention that yet... we have fake deer in our backyard... and our children do 'ride' them on occasion... as if THAT'S not normal or something.
My ultrasound appointment went PHENOMINAL the next day! It was SO EXCITING to see how big all the babies had gotten and how well defined all their bones, organs, brain matter, etc. were!! LITTLE PEOPLE IN THERE!! And, yes, I do indeed get 3 ultrasounds/month so it shouln't have been some huge suprise to me or anything... but there is still so much comfort in seeing the ultrasound tech click "normal" or "within range" for every item on each babies checklist. After our horrible 20 week appointment with our pregnancy with Aiden & Meadow, where it was first apparent that Meadow had several severe abnormalities that could be life-threatening, each and every ultrasound holds so much weight. I get sweaty palms EVERY TIME. It just doesn't matter how many times you hear that your babies look good or are developing normally... we have the unfortunate experience of seeing it all spiral out of control in an instant in front of our eyes... so this 20- week but really 17 week ultrasound where the specialist was measuring EVERYTHING held extra stress, as it does for every mother-to-be. But all was well!! Dr. Jelsema even called me the next morning to tell us to "save our gas money" and he conducted our consultation and ultrasound review over the PHONE instead. He said that there was nothing he was concerned about at this point and therefore he didn't see the need to actually have us make the trek in to meet in person when all he had was good (no.. GREAT!) news!! It was such a relief!! Our regular OB is awesome, we love Dr. McKay and Dr. Madion.... but the truth is that seeing our specialist Dr. Jelsema, who we KNOW has so much experience in multiples, is so reassuring. He has been so supportive and encouraging offering nothing but praise about how well the babies are doing, how well I am doing, my cervix was still that of a non-pregnant woman - which is a HUGE GAUGE that they will watch throughout our quad pregnancy for signs of preterm labor. He actually said "I do not forsee any bedrest with you at this point based upon how your taking care of yourself and the babies are holding up." YAHOO!!! We went from almost GUARANTEED bedrest at the onset, simply due to the high-risk nature of a quadruplet pregnancy, to such encouraging words, by our doctor who has years and years of experience with other mom's in my shoes... Not that I have much to do with any of it - glory be to the Big Guy upstairs looking down on our family!!! I try my best to take care of myself in every pregnancy as I do in life, eat healthy, exercize regularly, stay positive... but in this sort of situation we recognize that almost EVERYTHING is out of our hands. Growing FOUR healthy babies with this pregnancy has been our number one concern from day one and continues to be to this day... we praise God every single night for the blessings he has bestowed upon us.