Well the belly is getting bigger but maybe not quite as fast as we want it to be. A family friend of mine, Gina, recommended a good resource book for multiples and that book has even higher calorie, protein, and weight gain recommendations than other books/websites we've found. With multiples, apparently, it is particularly important to gain weight early in the pregnancy because by the end the babies take up so much space that it is literally hard to eat enough calories in a day (because your stomach doesn't have room to expand). So the goal is to build up plenty of fat stores early so the babies can draw on them later in development when Michelle can't keep up with eating. This is why eating has become a part-time job for Michelle, and making sure she is eating enough, a side job for me! Here are the recommendations for triplet pregnancies: Calories per day = 4,000; Grams of protein per day = 200+!!! And the ideal weight gain over the course of pregnancy is somewhere in the range of 60 pounds. For comparison, for a singleton pregnancy, the recommended weight gain is around 25-30 pounds and they say to add about 300-400 calories a day to your regular diet. One of the suggestions for getting to these recommended numbers is to have a milkshake or two every day.
Sounds like a dream diet right?!? The funny thing is that for years, Michelle has been saying "I can't wait until I get pregnant and can have a good reason to get fat!" And all that time I was saying "oh no, I don't think so. Pregnancy is not an excuse to eat anything you want." In fact, this refrain was so well known that our friends Scooter & Margo in Seattle would say "don't worry Michelle, when you are pregnant, we will feed you!" =) And now that we are expecting triplets, it's the exact opposite, I am constantly trying to get her to eat! I can't remember who said it, but one of our friends the other day asked her if she felt like she was a cow getting fattened up for the slaughter house!? =)
In all seriousness though, it really isn't easy to eat that much, especially when the pregnancy hormones slow down your digestive system and you have babies taking up space in there making Michelle feel like her food is sitting in her stomach like a rock. Whenever we leave the house we have a full bag packed with snacks and drinks so she can be constantly eating or drinking something with calories. And unless you have every really counted calories or tried to really build muscle for sports, you probably have no idea how difficult it is to get 200 grams of protein a day! We are pretty sure that we fail at this one every single day, but we are making a valiant effort. We bought some protein powder from Trader Joes and I make Michelle two protein shakes pretty much every day with soy milk, protein powder, lots of peanut &/or almond butter, cocoa powder, and a few slices of frozen banana, which gets about 60 grams of protein covered. We also add protein powder to the milkshake(s) we make for her at home. She also has a snack by the bed almost every night in case she is hungry in the middle of the night or to eat first thing in the morning. That is usually graham cracker and peanut butter sandwiches or a couple of the high protein healthy "breakfast cookies" I've made. We seriously go through a jar or more of peanut butter or almond butter every week these days!
We are constantly learning as we try to "fatten her up" for the babies sake. For example, it is not a good idea to drink a protein shake within an hour of a regular meal time because then she won't be able to eat much at the meal. It is also not a good idea for her to eat a normal portion of food for dinner because then her stomach hurts for the rest of the evening so we usually split her dinner in two and she eats half and then eats the rest an hour or so later. We have also learned that it is ideal if we can eat dinner early, like around 5; this doesn't always happen, but we are trying. So many things to remember!! We used to say that we planned our day around eating because we would eat breakfast and talk about what we were going to eat for lunch. =) Now we REALLY plan days around eating...or at least have to plan eating into the day!
Okay, enough rambling about eating. Here are the belly pics! I feel like it's harder to tell the difference, but when you look at proportions (ie chest to belly ratio) you can see the change. Michelle knows I record weight gain at each doctor appointment and that if it is low I'm probably going to be bugging her about eating more so she was stoked to see an 8lb gain this week knowing I would relax a bit. =)
(sorry we forgot the sign this week Mom!!!)