Who Are You Gonna Call?

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Ghostbusters Logo

The Ghostbusters were awesome when I was a kid...and they still are

When I was a kid, I loved the Ghostbusters.  I had the movie, I watched the TV show and I had action figures.  I went through a proton pack toy about every 6 months and by the end of the 6th month, they were beat up and heald together with duct tape.  Heck, I STILL love the Ghostbusters.  I bought the Ghostbuster video game when it came out last year despite the reviews I read how easy it was to beat (and it was).  And, I do plan on seeing “Ghostbusters III” when it hits theaters in the next year or two. 

But, the reason I bring up the Ghostbusters is their slogan for their business was, “Who Are You Gonna Call?”  And, after our last doctor’s visit on July 30th, that’s how Nicole and I felt.

Before the ultrasound that confirmed we had triplets, we had made an appointment with her OB to review the results of the ultrasound and talk about a plan for the rest of the pregnancy.  So, we went in on July 30th to see what Nicole’s OB had planned for us.  She was just as surprised by the ultrasound results as we were. 

She told us her practice did not specialize in triplets and therefore, she needed to refer Nicole to a specialist.  She made a suggestion and a few of our friends have made suggestions as well.  We’ve also received some advice on who not to go to. 

Our main concern is that they are (obviously) a good doctor.  Having triplets means Nicole is instantly a high risk pregnancy.  There’s also a good chance she’ll have to go on bed rest pretty early.  So, we want a doctor who’s good at what they do.  We also would like that doctor to be a pro-life doctor given our faith.  Location would also be a factor because when the school year starts, Nicole might have to go from school to a doctor’s appointment.  So, we want to take that all into consideration.

We left the OB’s office feeling a little sad.  We both really liked her OB and it was sad that she wasn’t going to be Nicole’s doctor anymore.  On the other hand, we were a bit confused because unlike the Ghostbusters there were several qualified people to call to handle our problem.  We were leaving in a couple of days to go on a mini-vacation to celebrate our one year anniversary.  We decided to make the decision about who Nicole was going to see when we got back.

“Who Are You Gonna Call?”  We’ll tell you as soon as we figure it out.

Surprise! You’re having triplets!

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The day of Nicole’s ultrasound finally arrived. We were in much better spirits than we had been last week. But, because of our past experience, we knew anything could happen. We were also a little worried because she was still bleeding. The doctor had told us there were a lot of reasons why she could be bleeding that weren’t harmful to the baby. So, we kept praying and trusting that God would let us have good news with the ultrasound.

The ultrasound was for 9:30 am. I went into work early and then came home to get Nicole. We got to the doctor’s office a few minutes early, signed in and waited for our turn. They called us and we went back to an examining room.

We told the tech about everything that had happened. We told her that the goal of the ultrasound was to try and hear a heartbeat and to make sure everything was still ok. So the tech started the ultrasound. The tech was completely silent. Unlike our last ultrasound tech she didn’t explain anything or show us anything. So we sat in complete silence (minus the hum and beeps of the ultrasound equipment) for about 15 to 20 minutes. When she was done, she told us to go and wait in the waiting room for results.

Nicole asked me what I had seen on the ultrasound. As I talked about in my previous post, you really can’t see much of anything unless you’ve been trained to look at them. All I saw were blobs and shadows. I did very vaugely see two “yoke sacks.”. But I quickly dismissed the idea. After all, I thought, it could have been a double image of the same yoke sack or it could have been a weird shadow.

We sat in the waiting room and waited for close to 40 minutes. It was a very long time. We began to get worried and wonder if everything was ok. We thought that if everything was ok, we would have received our results pretty quickly. I tried to keep Nicole’s thoughts on other subjects with one of the most scholarly and well read doctor’s room magazines available to waiting patients: Highlights for Kids. But Nicole wasn’t interested in the word search or if she could find all 11 pieces of sports equipment hidden in a picture. She just wanted to know if everything was ok with the baby.

Nicole was also getting hungrier as the minutes clicked by. Finally she couldn’t wait any longer. I left the doctor’s office to explore the 4 story medical building to see if there was a vending machine. I figured if there was one anywhere, it would be on the ground floor where they had a gift shop. I rode the elevator to the first floor, got out and look around. I didn’t see anything so I got back on the elevator to return to the doctor’s office on the 2nd floor and tell Nicole there was nothing to be found.

the Tower of Terror, Disney World

By far, this is my favorite attraction in Disney World: the Tower of Terror. Too bad I've never seen the wait for this ride below 45 minutes.

On my way up in the elevator, the lights all shut off and the elevator stopped running. The power in the whole building had shut off. I immediately had two thoughts: the first was about my favorite ride at Disney World: the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. For those of you not familiar with this Disney attraction, you are placed in an episode of the Twilight Zone where you are checking into and old hotel that had an elevator, 6 guests and an entire guest wing vanish on Halloween night after a lightning strike. The ride has you board the last working elevator,the service elevator, to get to your room. Of course with this being the Tower of Terror, the elevator beings rapidly rising and descending at a random rate. Standing at 199 ft tall, this ride does not disapoint if you are a thrill seeker. But, as much as I love the twilight zone, I had no desire to experience a real falling elevator.

My second thought was from the fantastic book, “The Worst Case Scenario Survival Guide.”. This book boasts of being able to give you instructions on how to survive any situatuion.

Worst Case Scenario Survival Guide

A funny read that'll teach you how to survive a dangerous situation ranging from how to fly a plane to fight off a shark, I don't know how correct the advice is though

 I had remembered reading that if an elevator falls, the best way to survive was to lay flat on the ground. But, I wasn’t 100% sure if I was remembering that correctly or if the advice was worth gambling my life on. But I quickly realized that even if the elevator did fall, I probably wouldn’t die since I would only be falling a story.

Then, the lights came back on but the elevator didn’t move. I hit the help button and it connected me to an emergency help line. Fortunately, the elevator started moving again. I reached the second floor and when the doors opened, I jumped free of my prision. I looked around and realized an emergency generator must have kicked in because emergency lighting was on but nothing else. I went back into the doctor’s office and discovered that Nicole was gone!

A nurse asked me if I had found my wife. I said I had left her here only a few minutes ago. They seemed just as confused as me. I tried to call her and had no service. Another nurse suggested I try standing by the window. I did and received an incoming call from Nicole. She told me she was downstairs in the lobby and she wanted me to come asap.

So I took the elevator (just kidding). I found the stairs with some help and made it to the lobby. When I got to the lobby I saw Nicole standing with a nurse. I walked up to Nicole and the nurse and asked what was going on. The nurse told me we had a situation. I was confused and asked her what she meant. She asked me if I was aware that Nicole and I were having triplets.

Now, I wasn’t shocked. I figured the whole thing was a joke. The nurse had been alone with Nicole for 5 minutes or more. I guessed she asked her if she could see if I would faint to the news I was having triplets. So I just smiled and said, “ah, ok.” I turned to Nicole and saw that she had a look of amazement on her face and she said, “Kenn, she’s telling the truth.”

I couldn’t believe it! I was over the top excited. Secretly, I had always thought having twins would be amazing. But I knew we didn’t have much of a chance of that happening. It wasn’t in our family tree and Nicole was pretty young.

Kenn, Nicole and Jaws

Odds aren't everything in life! Nicole and I almost got eaten by Jaws outside of his ride at Universal Studios in December of 2008

It turns out, as I mentioned earlier, your odds to conceive triplets naturally (without drugs) is 1 in 8,100. You have about the same odds of getting a match at a slot machine on your first pull. Your odds of getting hit by lightning are slightly higher: 1 in 10,000. And you have 1 in 400,000 of a chance of being eaten by a shark. So the motto of the story for me? I should gamble, stay inside when it rains and swim in the ocean without fear.

The nurse congragulated us and left. Nicole and I had to sit down we were so overwhelmed. I just kept laughing. Nicole just sat there saying the word over and over: triplets. Random people we didn’t know who were passing through who had also heard the nurse give us the good news stopped to shake our hands and congragulate us. The lady running the gift shop gave us three angel pins for free to celebrate our three “little angels.”

We went home and began calling everyone we know telling them the news. No one believed us at first. If the news spread quickly when we first told people we were having a baby, it exploded when we started telling people we were having triplets. We started to get texts and comments on our facebook within a few hours from people we hadn’t talked to yet.

We were really touched there were so many people so interested and had so many kind words to say to us. We also received offers of support in the form of prayers, future babysitters and baby items we could have. It really all meant so much to us. For all everyone had offered to help us with/do for us, thank you :).  It was all of this interest that led us to start this blog in the first place.

We had originally decided not to post any news to facebook because we wanted to tell people personally versus a status update. But because of how fast the news was spreading on it’s own, we posted our news to facebook.

As the reality of the triplets set in, we began to process how this would all work financially, living arrangements, doctor’s visits, etc. We ended the day not sure how we would get it all to work out. But we were both confident that if God had given us three children to raise, He would provide a way. We just had to be patient and wait for Him to reveal it.

Our next move was a doctor’s appointment with her OB on july 30th (about a week from the day I’m describing). We were confident her OB would provide guidence as what we were supposed to do next.

UP NEXT: Who you gonna call?

Tests and Prayers

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The next day, Friday, was not a fun day.  We were in perpetual fear of what could happen.  There were many times throughout the day when Nicole would just start crying.  There were many times when I could feel the fear of the unknown pulling at me but I knew I could not lose it for Nicole’s sake.  I’m generally pretty cool under pressure and it was a big asset for us as we went through that Friday together.

As soon as Nicole and I woke up, we called her OB and updated her on the situation and everything that had happened in the emergency room.  Her OB told her that she wanted Nicole to have more blood work done that day (friday) and she wanted Nicole to have an ultrasound done on Saturday.  We decided to head off to get her blood work done first thing so we could try to put it behind us.

After getting the blood drawn, I tried everything to take Nicole’s mind off of what we could find out in the next couple of days.  We went home, I made her food and we watched movies.  But, she could barely focus.  She kept saying she no longer felt pregnant.  We called her OB back and asked if there was any way we could get some kind of results the next day (Saturday).  The nurse said she didn’t think it was likely and that we could hope to have results by Monday or Tuesday.  I told her that my wife was very upset and she could not wait 24 hours after her ultrasound for some kind of results.  Fortunately, the nurse was very understanding.  She connected us to the doctor who told us after having her ultrasound that Nicole and I should come up to her office and she would hopefully have the results of her blood test (they take 24 hours to process) and she could get some preliminary results from the ultrasound.  We thanked her and hung up.

We spent a lot of time that day praying.  I generally don’t like to talk about my prayer life in regards to really personal things because I don’t ever want it to sound like I’m being, “Holier than Thou.”  But, we prayed very hard and we prayed several different kinds of prayers.  One prayer that Nicole particularly started was a very powerful prayer to St. Therese of Lisieux.  Nicole has a very strong devotion to this saint and the prayer she used was for a special intention. 

St. Therese of Lisieux

St Therese, the Little flower, pray for us and our children!

One of the cool things about St. Therese is she often indicates that she’s heard a prayer by letting that person praying for her intercession to receive either a single or a bouquet of roses.  I’ve known several people over the years who have asked for her prayers and have had this special grace.  Even though we were worried and fearing the results, I kept remembering feeling this peace over us.  We both knew whatever happened would be God’s will and we prayed that we could trust Him in that for the courage to obey Him.

On Saturday we went in to have the ultrasound.  This was the first ultrasound I had ever seen.  Ultrasounds in general I think are really hard to look at.  They’re made up of shadows.  Especially when you’re really early on in your pregnancy it’s really hard to see anything.  We then received our first bit of good news:  the tech doing the ultrasound said that if she did not know about Nicole’s ER visit, she said everything looked normal to her.  She also said that to her, Nicole looked like she was only about 5 weeks pregnant.

  Suddenly, it made sense why the ER doctors gave her such a grim prognosis.  They had thought she was 6 weeks pregnant.  While a week difference may not seem like a lot, as the tech told us, fetal development in massive in just a 24 hour period. In a week, you are talking light years of a difference.  As she said those words, I can remember just thanking God in my heart.  The ultrasound had shown us that despite all of her bleeding she was still pregnant. 

Ultrasound at 5 weeks

Not our ultrasound, but we wanted to give you an idea of what we saw and why there could be so much confusion. There isn't a whole lot to see at 5 weeks

But, we weren’t out of the woods yet.  There was a chance that Nicole could still have a miscarriage.  There was also a chance that the bleeding was connected to the baby not developing.  The blood tests Nicole was having done would reveal that.  If her pregnancy level hormones were rising drastically, everything was ok with the baby.  If they were remaining at the same level or decreasing, it would show there was a problem.  Her OB told us that she wanted Nicole to get another blood test done on Monday and then come in for an appointment she had made already for that Tuesday and she would analyze the results.

The doctor also told us that there may be a slight complication with her pregnancy if everything went ok after her last blood test.  She said the ultrasound revealed that Nicole may have a “Bicornuate Uterus.”  She said that the ultrasound showed that the baby was crowded to one side of the uterus and that was a bit unusual.  She explained that this was a condition that happens in women when they’re uterus doesn’t properly form at birth.  In women, the uterus actually develops as two separate halves that join together.  When they join, there is a seam at first between the two halves.  Then the body erases the seam.  Women who have a “Bicornuate Uterus” still have that seam.  Her OB said this condition wouldn’t cause her to have a miscarriage.  But, it would result in her going into labor earlier because the growing baby runs out of space.

We went home and kept praying.  We needed some groceries and I was in such a good mood, I stopped to get Nicole some flowers to celebrate the good news we had received.  Normally I like to get her Lillies, but I had this sudden idea to get her roses instead.  When I brought them home to Nicole, she asked me why I had bought them.  I told her to celebrate our good news and she asked me if I had remembered the St. Teresa prayer she had been praying.  I had not remembered she was praying that prayer.  We both took it as a sign that St. Teresa had heard our prayers and that everything was going to be okay.

  Monday came and we went and got her blood test done.  Tuesday came and we met with her OB and got more news:  her pregnancy hormones went through the roof.  The first blood test she had gotten when she was first pregnant had her hormone levels at 2,000.  The blood test she had gotten on Monday, which was a little more than a week after that first blood test, showed she was at 18,000.  The doctor told us that was a great sign.  But, Nicole was still bleeding.  She said she wanted to try to figure out what was causing the bleeding and she asked Nicole to come in for another ultrasound later that week.  We scheduled it for Thursday, in two days.

We went home relieved.  But, little did we know the adventure was just beginning…

Up next:  Surprise!  You’re having triplets!

Pregnancy and Appalachia

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Our pregnancy adventure began like most great stories do:  at the beginning.

The day was July 7th.  The time was 8 am.  Nicole woke me up and said she had a present for me.  I had spent the past several days helping out around the house doing a lot of random chores.  In my inital groggy state I thought she might have bought a DVD from the Wal-Mart $5 bin.  We do love movies.

In the back of my head, I thought maybe she might be telling me she was pregnant.  We use Natural Family Planning and had been trying to get pregnant.  But, we thought we had miscalculated and had missed our chance.  Nicole had taken several pregnancy tests and they had all turned out negative.  But, I still had hope.

Nicole handed me a small box.  I opened it up and found two pregnancy tests. 

Dollar Store Pregnancy tests

Not our exact tests, but that's what they look like! Despite being from the dollar store, they are incredibly accurate

 They were the cheap, dollar store variety.  I had no idea how to read them. But, I guess she wouldn’t have wrapped up a negative test.  We frantically called our family to tell the good news.  I was beyond happy.  It’s a hard feeling to describe if you’ve never been told you’re going to be a dad before.  But, I was just amazed that God would bless us this way and that He would trust us to raise a child.

  Nicole’s mom was ecstatic.  My mom and sister were on a plane and had to contain their excitement.  My dad thought the news was great and told me, “that will put some responsibility in you!”  I called my best friend, Timmy and told him the good news on my way to work.  As happy as we were, we wanted to avoid telling a lot of people until Nicole had gotten a blood test to confirm the pregnancy.   Just to be sure, Nicole went to Wal-Mart and got one of the digital read pregnancy tests.  It also showed she was pregnant.

The next day we got the good news:  her blood test showed we were pregnant.  We lost our discretion and told everyone we knew.  We were both so happy and wanted to share it with as many people as we could.  We were also counting our blessings in another way:  I was set to help lead a week long mission trip for my Church to Kingwood, WV to help fix homes and trailers in the area. 

Kenn giving orders on the job site

Kenn in Appalachia trying to look like the "commanding" foreman on the job site

 Nicole was originally planning on coming with me.  A few weeks prior to the trip, a family commitment came up, which caused her to back out of the trip.  Not that she was that far along to limit her activities, but doing the heavy labor of home repair in the heat of July, would be the best idea for her.

A few days later, I left on my trip.  Before I left, I spoke to our good Catholic neighbors and asked them if they wouldn’t mind checking in with Nicole every couple of days because I was going to be gone for so long.  They agreed and I left with some peace of mind.  And, this would prove to be an important favor to have asked.

Shortly after I got to Appalachia, Nicole told me she started to spot.  We knew that some spotting was normal.  But, the fact that it was happening, was still bothering us.  Thursday afternoon I got the worst text imaginable:  “I’m really bleeding a lot.  What should I do?”  Well, I had no idea.  So, I told Nicole to take herself to the ER.  Eventually, we’d learn that what she meant by “bleeding a lot” was she was soaking a pad an hour. 

 She was very upset and I was at least a three hour drive away.  I called our neighbors and fortunately Karen could meet her at the ER and stay with her until Nicole’s mom could get there.  By now, my work crew had returned to our camp to do some painting in the Church’s rectory.  I told my other crew leaders what was happening and went and locked myself in the Church to pray.  I also sent a text message out to a few of my friends that I knew would drop what they were doing to pray and asked them to start praying as well.

the Chapel at camp

this was the chapel I spent a lot of time in prayer in after I got the news. Fortunately, the local priest had brought over the Blessed Sacrament a few days prior

It took about an hour, but finally I got some answers to what was happening with Nicole.  They had done an ultrasound and had taken some blood work.  She was still bleeding heavily.  The inital ultrasound results were not good.  The doctors said they could see a sack in her uterus, but there was nothing inside the sack.  They were estimating she was 6-7 weeks along and the doctors said there should be something in the sack.  But, they said the results were inconclusive and that she should make an appointment with her OB and go from there.

I knew instantly that even though I was a youth minister, my first responsibility was to Nicole.  I pulled aside two of the chaperones who were natural leaders and explained the situation.  The camp only had another two days left, but I still wanted to talk through it with them and make sure that I could leave.  Then, I announced to the teens that I was leaving because my wife was in the ER.  I asked them to please pray for her.  Then, I jumped in the car and began the journey back to Maryland.

I was a little nervous about getting lost.  GPS doesn’t work in that area because most of the roads are not entered on the map.  I stopped at a local Subway to get dinner and they fortunately gave me very good directions.  I was able to get home in about the usual 3-4 hours.  I was exhausted and overwhelmed.  But, despite all our fears, I did have a peace about me that I knew was only from God.  Somehow, I knew this would all work out for the best…

Stay Tuned for Part II:  Tests and Prayers