But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him and his righteousness with their children's children . . . Psalm 103:17

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Silly Post


My weight gain is going really well recently: I'm up to 28.5 pounds gained, which is more than I had gained by the end of my pregnancy with Isaac! That's still less than I am "supposed" to have gained, but I'm getting closer. I had a goofy moment yesterday imagining what my friends would say if they could see  now, or even more, at the end of this pregnancy, and this silly poem popped into my head:

 "Ode to Quintuplet Pregnancy Weight Gain"

If you see me on the street, don't stop and stare
'Cause you see twice the woman there
My belly's popped, each leg's a tree,
There's extra fat all over me!
But don't feel sad or think I'm lazy,
This was deliberate - ain't that crazy?
"At least 80 pounds," the doctor said,
And I've got her orders stuck in my head.
There are "Quints on Board," my shirt will say,
So I'll smile at you and be on my way.




A snapshot of the future? (minus the really nice kitchen and pregnant belly, which in my case would just be extra skin left over from carrying the quints) I'm giving this mom a break because clearly she is on her first cup of coffee. She'll reel them all in and impose some order shortly. 

Anemia and Blood Panel Update


The results of the blood panels are in, but the hematologist yesterday had his lab draw several more vials for additional testing and will call me with those results later. He wants to rule out any underlying pathology, but sees no cause for concern on that score yet.

The upshot is my iron stores and are low, not surprising, and I am supposed to stay on the nasty liquid iron. It appears that my bone marrow was beginning to respond to the increased available iron, even though the hemoglobin had dropped. It will probably take 6 weeks to verify if this therapy is working; if not, it's on to transfusions (I presume of packed red blood cells?).

Not being a doctor, I don't really understand all this, but the hematologist said it's a bit more complicated to transfuse blood during pregnancy as there are factors in the donor blood that might war with factors in the babies' respective blood. And we are dealing with five little people here. :) Therefore, he would prefer to avoid the transfusions (at which point I'd be in Dallas anyway with the perinatologist responsible for the rest of the pregnancy), but says my hemoglobin cannot go any lower. So that's a prayer request for those who are "battling the odds" with us throughout this pregnancy.

With much gratitude,
Carrie



Gavin Gone (Briefly) :)


Gavin is away at a MATA (Mission at the Airport) in Whiting, NJ. He left early Thursday morning and will be there until Tuesday. It's a great chance for him to visit friends and "family"out there on Sunday, at Mountain Ridge Bible Chapel - people I dearly wish I could see and hug in person, too! They've been super special "aunts" and "uncles" for as long as I can remember. That's my mom's home area.

Of course, the prayer requests for Gavin during this MATA are for safety and wisdom and grace as he shares the importance of Bible translation with passengers and onlookers. We also pray he will recognize opportunities to explain the ultimate importance of a personal relationship with the God of the Bible through Jesus Christ.

Thank God that aside from a cough and cold and the fatigue that is completely to be expected, I am feeling really well! I sleep quite a bit, but Isaac is being a trooper and helping me out with his patience and good attitude. He is quick to stop me from doing something that he thinks might hurt the babies (e.g., carrying a pizza box or picking a piece of trash off the floor) and offers to do it instead, sweet boy! I know his dad had a serious talk with him before he left. :)


Quick Quint Update

Hooray and praise God!: As of Tuesday, all babies are well and big and active - the sonographer made a couple of comments about how busy they all were. She also verified the 2nd supposed girl is indeed a girl: Little tell-tale lines seen between the legs of both girls, very obvious parts visible on all three boys, and each baby looks perfectly formed (as far as they can tell at 16 weeks), even down to their lips and palates. The big ultrasound, which will take 2+ hours and check all anatomy on all 5 babies, will be on the 5th of June, when I will be 18 weeks along. We pray that one, too, finds each baby to be perfectly healthy in every way.  

God is graciously strengthening my anatomy week by week, too, so I can safely carry these babies without intervention anytime soon. I praise God that when He formed me in my mother's womb He made my body strong for this task He foreordained. :)

We leave each ultrasound more in love with our kids. :) It's fun to know where the girls and boys are, so when I feel movement I know it's one of our daughters or sons. One girl is on the far left of my belly, the other girl is way up high, approaching my right rib cage. All the boys are on the right and lower. I think the picture below is basically a mirror image. You can see all the sacs but not all the babies because of the various planes in which they are hanging out.

Thanks again for all your prayers!
Carrie





Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sixteen weeks! And a couple of prayer requests

Sixteen weeks and feeling great! But sadly, more anemic than two weeks ago. My hemoglobin dropped a full point, down to 8.4. Back in early February I was around 13, a number I won't see this pregnancy due to the dilution of my blood: I'll have 2.5 times the amount I normally do circulating through my system (as I understand it), trying to nurture those babies and keep my body working right. The doctor ordered a full panel of tests to check my iron stores and no doubt other stuff he didn't bother explaining to me. Meanwhile, I continue to drink my nasty liquid iron and pray for safety for the babies. I just want them to get enough oxygen! We have our next baby sonogram and check-up on Tuesday, so we'll update you then. I should get my blood panel results back around then, too. 

My feet and ankles have either started to swell, or I have gotten fatter down there. :) I sure felt the effects of my lack of iron, increased weight (23 pounds, woo-hoo!), and just the taxing drain five babies create on my whole system yesterday when Gavin and I got to fulfill a years-long dream of mine: visiting the Biltmore in Asheville, NC. (Thanks for helping us make that trip so much more affordable and fun, Uncle Gary and Annelies! It was wonderful to see you again! And thanks, Lisa, for keeping Isaac!!!) I said it was an early anniversary celebration since I'll be out of commission by August 14th. However, I don't think it was super romantic for Gavin to help his huffing, puffing, puffy wife all over the house and gardens, with lots of rest stops for my benefit. :) But he was unfailingly considerate, a great sport, and is a wonderful friend and husband, even when all we can do is laugh at the circumstances we find ourselves in! We do that a lot nowadays. 

One thing that really struck me was how much more impaired I was by my pregnancy than other women were by theirs (presumably singleton pregnancies). It was embarrassing! One hugely pregnant mom was pushing a stroller around. I wished I had a shirt that said "Quints on Board" or something like that. Then I might not look like such a wimp . . . 

Some pictures of yesterday, just for fun:
Many bedrooms in this house are larger than our home in Ukarumpa (960 square feet). 
The "Winter Garden"

One of many reasons we came now instead of later with six kids: there's a sheer 20-foot drop-off over that low ledge.



The outside of the stairwell that nearly did me in. 

Love to you all, and thanks a million for the continued prayers which are very apparent!
Carrie, for Gavin and Isaac, too. 


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

CFI In Hand!

Thanks for all your prayers!

The drive up to the Raleigh area yesterday went well.  The weather was decent enough to get some good full-touchdown autorotation training in this morning.  The checkride oral exam and flight test all went very smoothly and I'm now a Certified Helicopter Flight Instructor!

A nice thing about this is that in the process, my airplane flight instructor license, which I let expire several years ago, is now reinstated and current.  With a little recurrent training I can get back into that as well, if needed.

The trip home was good and it's nice to be back with the family.  Carrie's finding that single parenting is a mite bit harder than it was a few months ago, given her energy level.

Again, I appreciate so much all your thoughts and prayers.  The process went smoother than I expected it to.

Taken just after my Checkride: A Robinson R44 Raven I


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Carrie at 15 Weeks

She's growing and feeling pretty well most of the time.  Thanks to all again for your many prayers!



CFI Checkride and Autorotations

Practicing a "power recovery" autorotation.
I (Gavin) have my checkride for my helicopter Certified Flight Instructor rating on Wednesday this week. I will be driving up to Louisburg, NC on Tuesday and will fly with the Flight Examiner on Wednesday morning after practicing some full-down autorotations (emergency engine failures to a landing) with another instructor.

If you think of it, please pray for safe travel to Louisburg,  good weather, good preparation for the test, and a good transition into an unfamiliar aircraft.  There are many different things that I can be tested on during the oral exam and during the flight exam.  It is hard to know what exactly to focus my studies on in the last few days in order to be best prepared, but the Lord knows.

Another autorotation recovery

Autorotations?  

For those of you who are interested, read on.  This has nothing to do with pregnancy, quintuplets, or waist girth . . . .

Yes, helicopters can and do "glide."  If the engine fails, that does not necessarily mean it's all over and you are going to crash.  Just as in an airplane, pilots need to be trained how to correctly respond with the flight controls when an engine failure occurs.

In a helicopter, a pilot must react quickly if the engine fails.  If he does, the helicopter is fully controllable, but will be descending much quicker than an airplane.  The rotor blades, instead of being driven by the engine, are being driven by the air that is flowing upward through the blades as the helicopter descends.  This aerodynamic phenomenon is called autorotation.  If the pilot is able to conserve the energy that is in the spinning rotor blades all the way to the ground, that inertia can then be used as the helicopter approaches the ground to slow the descent rate and forward speed.  This will allow the helicopter be lowered to the ground before the blades slow down to the point where they can no longer support the helicopter.

That's one of the things we practice repeatedly in training.  We do not shut the engine down, but just roll off the throttle so that the engine is no longer driving the rotor blades.  Typically we only do an autorotation to a "power recovery," which means we practice the maneuver down to the point where we are a few feet off the ground, but then we roll the engine power back on.  We never actually touch the ground during the maneuver.  It still teaches the pilot the necessary aspects of safely landing a helicopter after an engine failure, but removes on of the potentially dangerous portions of the autorotation- the actual touchdown.

The reasoning is this.  Statistically, more accidents have happened due to practicing autorotations to the ground than from actual engine failures.  Therefore we usually just practice the power recovery autorotation.

In order to be a helicopter flight instructor, we need to be proficient in full-touchdown autorotations, so that is part of the test that I will be taking on Wednesday.  We don't practice that maneuver in our organization's helicopter due to insurance reasons, so that's why I'll be going to another location for the test.  I'll do some training initially with a regular instructor, practicing the full-touchdown autos, then will take the test with the actual examiner.

Thanks for your prayers!

Gavin

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Big news! And many praises!

Hi friends/family!

We did not expect to have this kind of news to announce for at least two more weeks, but at my 14 1/2 week ultrasound the tech was able to tell the gender on at least 4 of the 5 babies. What a fun ultrasound! It took an hour for the poor woman to do the requisite measurements and try to get the babies to "show their stuff."

Drumroll please . . .  It looks like three are definitely boys, one is definitely a girl, and one is almost certainly another girl as there is nothing between the legs. :) We could actually see the "three little lines" that identify a female fetus on the other little girl. We were just overjoyed! We both wanted 2 girls and 3 boys (but would love and be grateful for whatever God gave us, obviously). Since the boys were so much easier to spot, the tech identified them first, and Gavin and I were both getting a little nervous that maybe
ALL were boys! Imagine, a home with 6 boys. 

When we got home we asked Isaac what he would prefer, before telling him, and he thought about it and said, "I think 2 girls and 3 boys would be good." So all three of us got our wish, looks like!

Of course, the single biggest praise is that all are measuring right on target or above for gestational age, and all look perfectly healthy. They sure were active during our hour-long session! 

They're so cute; they are all cuddled up together in one clump on my right side. One little girl is above the line of my belly button, two little boys are under her, then another boy is on the right and the other little girl is on the left under them, but they're just packed in all together, butting heads, backs and legs running into each other. (See 1st picture, below.)

The babies are making themselves increasingly obvious as they kick and prod and roll. It's fun, and I look forward to when Isaac and Gavin will be able to feel/see them. However, I wonder how much it might affect my ability to sleep??!! 

I've gained 19 pounds - yay! "Only" 61 to go (sigh). I would really appreciate prayers for a roaring appetite. It's hard to force myself to eat enough so that my body will have enough surplus for when my stomach has hardly any space and I cannot eat enough in 24 hours to meet the needs of all 6 of us! But of course I am intensely grateful not to be feeling nauseated much at all anymore. Thank you for praying me through that yucky phase!

We have lots of additional praises: 

More gifts to our Organization account (including from Anonymous - thank you!!!) to help cover medical bills, baby needs, and Gavin's helicopter Flight Instructor check-ride next week (which is a a prayer request, too); a good haul of 0-6 month pjs at the MOPS (Mothers Of Pre-Schoolers) clothing exchange yesterday; more coordinating and working and planning by dear friends and family to try to organize diaper drives and contact companies about our unique situation - I guess we're the first missionaries in the history of the world to have quintuplets!; and last but very much NOT least: more volunteers to rock, change and feed babies! Hooray! :)

AND a couple of extra large gifts for use in the next year and beyond: 

A family member gifted us cleaning service that will cover deep-cleaning the house at least twice a month for a year! That leaves only the day-to-day sweeping, mopping, wiping counters, etc. for our dear volunteers or ourselves to do. HUGE RELIEF!!

The same family member is also covering approximately a third of my tummy tuck/abdominoplasty (see the "Four realities" post of 4/24), which at first I was a little embarrassed to mention, as I felt like people would consider it a vain dream. However, as of last night am no longer ashamed to admit I will continue to pray for God's provision on this one. We bought the book "Raising Multiple Birth Children: A Parents' Survival Guide," and one of the final chapters was on tummy tucks. (Men and any women who are squeamish, you may want to sign off here.) The author, who had triplets, writes that even eight months after her children's birth, "The muscular separation of my abdominal wall looked like the Grand Canyon!!  . . . when I sat up my guts would pop through the deep herniated crevasse." 

I found out that's called a ventral hernia, where the abdominal muscles have just had to separate all the way down to allow the skin and babies to keep growing. I am going to check with our insurance rep to see if they will at least cover the muscle/hernia repair. Removal of the feet and feet of extra skin is considered cosmetic only. So THANK YOU, dear family member(s), for helping me get that much closer to a normal abdomen someday!

Now for pictures:
Okay, here's the jumbled picture: there are three babies in here.
Unfortunately, it's hard to get the 3D plane and scope to include the best parts of them all.
One baby is head-down at the top. You can see his/her little back and left arm and ear.
Another baby is snuggled up to him/her on the lower left; his/her back is up against the first baby's head.
You can also see the legs, bottom left, and an arm of that 2nd baby.
The third baby is scrunched in the lower right, head to head with baby 1,
with his/her belly shoved up against  Baby 2's miniscule bottom.
They already love being together! :)


Back of body and head, with part of left arm at top

Sorry, this one's a little freaky - more skull-like than face-like, but you can see the body and left arm really well!

Hopefully this one is fairly clear
cute little face profile on right, tummy in middle, leg on left

Another self-explanatory one; I like it that you can see the little legs and feet at middle right.
And the face (top left), though blurry, is cute, I think. :) The right arm is up against the face, I believe. 
With love and appreciation to EVERYONE who is praying and helping us through this!
Carrie, for Gavin too

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Carrie at 14 Weeks

Here's Carrie on Sunday at 14 weeks.  She seems to be visibly growing by the day.  Yesterday she said that she thinks she's about as big now as she was at 7 months with Isaac!  She is doing quite well now with very little nausea, though still very exhausted.

14 Weeks

Friday, May 4, 2012

Anemia rears its ugly head

Hi all!

 I'm actually feeling well enough to sit at the computer and do something productive, praise God and THANK YOU for your prayers! Please keep them coming. :) And be assured that if you have shared prayer requests with us we have written them down (and in my case, put them above the kitchen sink; ironic because Gavin has ended up doing most of the dishes, but I still see them a few times a day) and we pray for you, too, even if I haven't written back to tell you that.

In an odd way, I'm glad to have something else to blame for my extreme low energy: turns out I have severe anemia, something detected only after I asked the nurse to please check my blood at the start of yesterday's appointment. I guess it's something that normally isn't checked until later in singleton pregnancies, but I really felt like something else was wrong in addition to just having five babies to "grow." I take massive naps and am still exhausted by bedtime and sleep in in the morning. Thank God for my WONDERFUL husband and sweet son who love and help me so much! Gavin's sense of humor, optimism, and excellent fathering skills (e.g. wrestling, bike-riding, homework-supervising) are a huge blessing.

Due to the nausea and other gastrointestinal issues with which I already struggle, I can't take iron like normal people. The pharmacy had to special order a liquid form that passes through the stomach unchanged before being broken down lower in the digestive tract. If that iron preparation doesn't work for some reason, I'll have to get injections (reputed to be agonizingly painful). So please pray that it works and that I can tolerate it well. :)


I have to get up once or twice at night to eat a hefty snack/meal because I'm so hungry my body won't let me sleep any longer! That seems to be true no matter how much I eat during the day. (I hope I didn't bring back anything unwanted from PNG - I've got my stomach full enough as it is with our own five rapidly growing and beloved "parasites!")


After a bit of a scare on Tuesday with many contractions, cramping and lower back pain brought on by doing laundry, I finally gave up the idea of this ever being like a normal pregnancy. In consequence, a dear friend of our family from Colombia days is doing our laundry. Thank you, Aunt T.! In addition, a dear friend of mine from PNG is coming to help us clean the apartment before moving out (thanks, K.K.!), another friend from PNG has set up a meal list (thanks, B.!) for which people from both Colombia and PNG have signed up; a fun intersection of two worlds. And these acts of service don't include other very generous gifts of my favorite foods, used baby stuff, several packs of diapers, donations towards baby supply costs and doctors' bills, and much more. We are humbled and overwhelmed! Thank you God and thank YOU, dear friends - you each know who you are.

I should add that the aforementioned scare didn't cause anything to change with the babies or me. Everything looked great (aside from the anemia) at my appointment yesterday. Unfortunately, no ultrasound until next week. :) I sure can feel the little bodies rolling around, though! So different from a single baby, when I felt nothing at this stage. These little rollings happen independent of each other - it's fun to be reminded that they are each from a separate little person!

With love and gratitude, and all glory to God,
Carrie





Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Doing great today!

Yes, Carrie has had a wonderful day today!  She only woke up once last night and has been feeling well all day and able to eat well.  Praise God and thank you all for your prayers!

Any of you, please let us know how we can lift you up in prayer as well.  This isn't just one way.

Gavin

Gavin, Carrie, Isaac, Will, David, Marcie, Seth, & Grace Jones

Gavin, Carrie, Isaac, Will, David, Marcie, Seth, & Grace Jones