Sunday, December 22, 2013

Notes from my hospital stay - in bullet form


US federal law for c-section = 96 hrs. Use it. Meaning, don't go home early unless you really can't stand being in the hospital.

Write down the names of every shift nurse and something to remind you who they are ("held my hand during blood pressure check" for example). You might want to thank the nurses later.






The nurses can give you SO. MUCH. STUFF. We got hundreds of dollars of necessary baby stuff for free. Ask and they'll probably provide! Same applies to the lactation consultants.

START PUMPING RIGHT AWAY. Seriously, start right away after every meal if possible just to stimulate your breasts and get your milk supply going. I started pumping the very first day in the hospital.

Breast pump - get someone to pick it up so you can go through it with lactation consultant if you want. And, RENT A HOSPITAL GRADE PUMP as it is so much better than the ones you get through insurance. You may not need it but if you have any milk production issues, the hospital grade pump is so much better.

Use lactation consultant's expertise. Over. And over. And over again! Daily.

Use the nursery at night! The nurses will take great care of the babies and you can get solid sleep. They'll bring the babies in for feeding time if you want. Once you get home, no sleep for you! Also, sleep in the hospital will help you recover from either a vaginal birth or a c section.

If you have to go in early for monitoring, bring: own towel, shampoo (bring towel and shampoo and soap for hubby), soap, pillows (more than one), clothes as you probably won't need to be in the hospital gown, slippers or flipflops, air mattress or camping mattress for hubby to put on otherwise-uncomfy pull-out couch,

Shower morning of induction / c section. You won't want to shower the next day probably, and maybe even the day after that. If it's a scheduled c section, they'll put your hair in a head cap. You might still enjoy styling your hair, but the first photos with babies will include the hospital surgery cap.

Take swaddling lessons from the nurses. If you can own the swaddle, life will be a tiny bit easier!

They'll give you maternity underwear - gauze and huge. They are amazing. Horde and protect them. Especially if you have a c sec, you won't want normal underwear. And get some pads (the hospital will give you huge ones but buy normal ones at the store) as you'll bleed / spot for a while likely.

You will likely bleed for a few weeks (up to 6 weeks) so make sure you have some store-bought pads at home. You won't need the giant hospital ones after a while, but you also won't be able to use a panty liner.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Scars are souvenirs you never lose" - having a baby via c-section

I have a series of blog posts that I want to create - the hurdle is not what I want to write about, but when I manage to write. This morning, as I nursed both babies at 4am, I worked through what I would blog about. I felt like I had a real writer's flow. When I climbed back into bed, though, leaving the babies with their grandma for her shift, I decided sleep was more important. Now, some 8 hours later, I am not feeling as witty or creative. Alas, I am better in the wee hours of the morning but not capable of capitalizing on that!

So ... a c-section. Going into mine, I knew TONS of women who had had them, but still, I didn't know exactly what to expect. This was despite, even, the fact that the nurses at the hospital told me exactly what to expect.

For those who are pregnant or hoping to be pregnant, and for my own memorializing of my experience, I want to write about what it's like to have a c-section.

Mine was a "scheduled c-section." At 10 am on Nov. 18, my OB called my hospital room to check on me. It was a Monday and she was off the whole weekend. She had my newest lab results and we talked about what to do next. I called it - told her I was nervous, especially about Baby A, and that I would much prefer the babies to spend some time in the nursery AND BE OUT SAFE than to miss something, push things a few more days or weeks, and have something terrible and tragic happen to one or both of my babies.

So at 10 am my babies' birthday was decided. My c-section would be at 1 pm Pacific time.

Between 10 and 1 was when things got interesting. Thinking about all the beautiful right-after-birth photos I have seen of other women and their babies, I took a shower and even blew my hair dry and tried to style it. Had I had make up, I might have even felt compelled to put some on (this is mind blowing as I wear make up about once or twice a YEAR). I took a final belly photo and then got back into bed. I spent some time creating an email list of everyone who wanted the birth announcement and I listened to some music. I got ready, as best I could, but not really knowing what was coming. My hubby was coming back around 12:30 (he went home to shower, collect things to start sleeping at the hospital, and to get mentally ready himself).

I have an IRL friend who had a c-section and blogged about it. She called it a "weird" experience and then apologized for using the term "weird." It does seem like a high school word, one that is used when we don't know what else to say or lack the ability to come up with a better description. But, as it turns out, giving birth by c-section IS a WEIRD experience and that word suits it just perfectly.

Here's how it went down:

1:15 (they were running late, which elevated my anxiety), they wheeled me back into the OR. My hubby wasn't allowed back in there at first. I had to have my spinal put into place. The spinal part scared me more than the rest of it. I was worried - and even talked to the anesthesiologist - about not being able to ever use my legs again. He all but guaranteed me that would not happen and, fortunately, it turns out he was right.

For the spinal, I sat on the operating bed with my gown open in the back. I leaned forward into the arms and chest of the head nurse (who was wonderful). She supported me as I tried to relax. My head / face were in her chest and I *think* my arms were loose and hanging down on her side. There were two parts to the spinal: the initial prick which was a numbing agent and then the actual spinal. The numbing agent felt like a bee sting. It was sharp and local, not over-the-top painful, but definitely there. I remember saying "ow, ow ow" as it went in. We waited about 5 minutes and everything local in my back went numb and I only felt some pressure with the actual spinal going in. At that point, I could still feel and move everything else.

Then the spinal took effect. Holy hell was it weird. By the time it took effect, I was lying on my back. I started to feel my toes tingle within about a minute. Then the rest of me started to tingle. Within about 5 minutes (or less) everything from my chest down was. completely. DEAD TO ME. Not just numb. But actually like a tree stump. I could not move anything to save my soul. I tried to move my toes, WILLED them to move. I tried to do a kegel exercise and couldn't. It was all completely dead. Heavy. There but not actually there.

The catheter was inserted, and would not be removed until well after surgery. I would have to regain feeling in my legs first, which I was told would take about 3 hours after surgery. 

My OB was already in the room, but despite knowing her so well, I didn't recognize her in her hair net and face mask. Her eyes were kind and she chatted. The room was FILLED. My OB and her partner (two OBs per policy on a twin delivery). The anesthesiologist. The pediatrician. One nurse for me, one nurse per OB, and one nurse per baby. It was cramped. And chilly. Everyone in the room chatted. About the weather. The music the anesthesiologist had picked. About the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. At one point, they made sure the banter was not too much for me. I told them I was enjoying it as it was distracting me.

Cue my hubby allowed to come in and cue also the tears. I was stressed and seeing him finally - in his scrubs and hair net - made me sob. He held my hand and talked me through it. They put up the screen. They reminded me I would feel lots of pressure but should feel nothing else.

And then they got started. I started to feel some nausea from the spinal so I got anti-nausea meds in my IV. That made me a little drowsy, but still mostly present.

Then ... HOLY SHIT DID I FEEL PRESSURE. Nothing hurt, but it absolutely felt like someone was giving my abdomen a deep tissue massage. And I could sense when they removed each baby because my abdomen was less cramped and things relaxed in there.

At one point, I said to my OB "I can sort of feel something" and her classic response: "I'm not surprised, I have my hand up to your sternum." EEK!

My hubby didn't want to see anything that was happening behind the screen and I don't blame him. He spent the whole procedure right by me, holding my hand, talking banally about me, reading from Paddington Bear. But my OB wanted him to see two things. She said "_____, look." He said "I don't want to" and she said "oh just look" and she held Baby A up over the screen. My perfect first daughter appeared, all wrinkly and bloody and wet and PERFECT. She was screaming. We were in love. Two minutes later, perfect Baby B appeared over the screen. This time, nobody had to coax my hubby (or me) to look up. She was also screaming, which was music to our ears.

Within a few minutes of being born, each baby was swaddled and given to us. Despite hearing horror stories of c-section women having their arms tied down, mine were free. I was not comfortable holding the babies due to the anti-nausea meds that were still making me kind of drowsy. So hubby held them and I put my hands on them and nuzzled my face up to theirs. I was sewn back up quickly and the 3 of us were wheeled back to my room and we started with breastfeeding immediately. Hubby - who is not normally one to take or think about taking photos - heeded my request to document the first moments. He took some photos with his free hand and then asked the anesthesiologist to snap our first family photo. It is one we have not shared with anyone and it is raw and intimate and amazing. The hair style I had worked on did not matter. My hair was under an operating cap. I did not care. I had my babies and they were perfect.

Back in my hospital room, we were breastfeeding before I could feel the rest of my body. I didn't regain the use of my legs for about 3 hours and wasn't feeling up to attempting to stand up for a few hours after that. The removing of the catheter didn't hurt, but just felt "weird" (that word again). My swelling went temporarily up after all the fluids I was given. I felt very bloated after surgery.

Having a baby (or babies) by c-section can be a terrifying experience, especially when one has hours to contemplate what is about to happen. And it is a HUGE experience. My internal organs were all removed from my body, only to be put back in. My uterus was fucked with in a way that compares only to carrying a twin pregnancy (because, ladies, that sure fucked with my uterus!). My abdomen was cut open and then sewed back up, internally and externally. My body has to "remember" how to urinate and poop, and it has to do that within a day (urinate) or three (poop) or else people get worried.

Addition: I was asked about the incision and recovery time. I will put it in one large paragraph. The incision is right at my pubic hair line. In fact, the nurse shaved a few inches below so it was hairfree for surgery. The incision currently is about 6 inches long but I am told that might shrink down a bit as my belly continues to shrink down. As far as recovery goes, it is important to remember that the process is different for everyone. For me, it has been very easy. I have learned through life that I have a remarkably high pain threshold and was off the Oxy within 48 hours of surgery and off the Ibuprofen within 72 hours of surgery. That is not the case for everyone and if you need more drugs for longer, do not beat yourself up or judge yourself. The pre-infertility me - you know, the one who didn't inject herself with a shit ton of drugs three times a day - rarely even took Advil for a headache. When I had ACL reconstruction, I was off pain meds in 4 days. And I never even took Tylenol or Advil after my D&C last year. It's just how I roll - my dad calls it "the Dutch way" (whatever that means!). So take this part of my blog post with a grain of salt. What I can speak to is that it was highly frustrating being restricted on what I could do for the first few weeks. I was allowed to hold both babies (about 11 pounds of baby at first) but wasn't allowed to do much else. That was hard and I think I probably pushed that envelope more than I should have. Which is partly why I go off pain meds so I can feel what my body is feeling and know the natural limitations it is trying to put in place. I am 4 weeks 2 days from surgery and feel great, other than the fact that my belly still looks about 4 months (with twins) pregnant. My stomach muscles are still spread apart from being pregnant and my uterus is not back to its normal size yet. There is bleeding as part of the recovery. The first few days, I passed very large clots. They didn't hurt - just slipped right out - but were rather astonishing and disconcerting to see in the toilet bowl. I am still bleeding randomly - some days not at all, other days I pass small clots. The amount of bleeding, I have learned, depends on the amount of movement and exercise I do: when I walk the dog quickly for a long walk, for example, I expect to see more bleeding. I have been told by nurses and doctors that is totally normal. I am allowed to take baths and have been for about 2 weeks (haven't had time to take one, though!) and am allowed to start jogging SLOWLY at about 6 weeks post surgery. The same goes for yoga and other exercise. I was warned that an increase in exercise will again increase any bleeding. So there you have it. A paragraph on recovery.

And, as a mother of c-section babies, I feel compelled to say this: having a baby (or babies) via c-section does NOT make me less of a mother or less of a bad ass. It is not something I am ashamed of or that I wish could be different. I heard a song lyric in high school that resonated with me - I love scars and the lyric fit my outlook on life perfectly: "scars are souvenirs you never lose."

I have a souvenir - my c-section scar. I love this souvenir. I have so many invisible scars from the infertility journey - my body and mind were damaged and changed, irreparably in some ways. But those bruises and bumps, scars and souvenirs are invisible to the rest of the world. They sit only with me and, like any bruise or scar, will heal and fade over time. This newest souvenir will also heal, but it will be with me forever and will forever memorialize the conclusion of my journey, the birth of my beloved daughters. It is a natural tattoo, a reminder of what we went through, what we achieved, and how happy we are.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

They are here! 13 days old and sleeping as I type this

You would think that I could have and would have found time to update my blog about the birth of my daughters. But having twin girls, especially late-stage premie twins, means one's time is very limited. I promise to update more and again as we settle more more into a routine and I have some time. For now: two healthy beautiful girls were born on Monday, November 18 at 1:39 pm and 1:41 pm. I was 35w4d pregnant.

Baby A was born first at 5 pounds 8 ounces. Baby B came second at 6 pounds 4 ounces. The c section - planned because my blood pressure was too high to sustain an induction that would likely take a few days (my cervix remained completely closed so would have needed "ripening") - went phenomenally well. Both babies needed only a 3 minute check up (standard for all babies) before being handed to us in the OR. The never left our sides and needed no zero NADA nicu time!!!!! We could not have been more relieved. They are absolutely perfect.

We stayed in the hospital through Friday, taking advantage of lactation consultants and nurse experts. I managed to get off all pain meds by Wednesday, which made me happy and made the nurses gossip about me being tough. I have alway hated pain meds and get off them asap in exchange for feeling the pain and knowing what my body is doing. And I hated the idea of even a minimal amount passing through my breast milk into my gorgeous babies.

We are home, have been for over a week, and are completely in love. We have had 5 of the 7 grandparents visit already which was amazing. Two uncles and their partners visit over the next two weekends. And grandparents are coming back to stay through the new year. So much help, we are lucky!


More soon, I promise.

Monday, November 18, 2013

How do you say good bye? (not me)

The cruelty of the fight against infertility never ceases to amaze me. I have been bruised and battered, hardened and hurt, but I have never suffered a 2nd or 3rd (knock on wood) trimester loss. I just cannot imagine the pain or what the recovery period looks like.

Holly at Oh Baby, Baby suffered two 2nd trimester losses within the last 3 weeks, and lost one embryo back at 9 weeks. She lost all her babies, the most recent last night. I only started following her blog recently when someone linked to her and asked for others to lend support (when she lost her daughter, Brinley, at 18 weeks pregnant). Last night, at 21 weeks pregnant, she lost her son, Jude. To add insult to injury, it appears Jude was completely healthy but that Brinley's placenta got infected and caused Jude's loss.

What do you say to someone who lost three embryos / babies in one pregnancy? You remember that was my fear months ago when we were told that at-the-time-baby-A had stopped growing. I was terrified that the remaining two (the embryo that split) would be lost to me. That my loss count would go from 5 to 6 to 8 in one foul swoop. I never (knock on wood) had to "learn" that lesson. Holly did, but in a much more tragic way.

What do you say? I don't know, but I said something in the hopes that knowing she has so much community support will help her in the tiniest of ways. Please go to her blog and, if you can, leave her some kind of message of support.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

35+2, hospitalized, still pregnant: an update

Tuesday I had some odd but minor symptoms: 20 seconds of nausea, some discharge, more swelling in my feet. I called into my MFM on Wednesday morning and they told me to come straight in for a blood pressure monitoring and another NST.

40 minutes later, I was hooked up to the NST having clocked a blood pressure of around 140/90. They weren't happy. I lay there for 20 minutes for the NST and then clocked two even higher bp readings: 145/102 was the highest. At that point, they were on the phone to my OB about delivery that day. She was just across the street so I walked over there and met with her. She told me she wanted me admitted to hospital for a c-section that evening or Thursday morning.

She let me run home to let my dog pee, feed the cats and chickens and grab some things for the hospital. She wanted me at the hospital by 1:30 and I got here by 1:15. I was pretty panicked because I was only 34+6 on Wednesday and was so scared of the babies coming out that early.

The oddest thing was that I had NO idea how to get to labor & delivery. Why is that strange? Well, this is exactly where I was September 2012 for my D&C. But I had blocked every. single. thing. from that experience out and even when I was parked and walking to where someone told me to go, I still ended up in the wrong building. I expressed this later to my hubby and he said the same thing happened to him. He had no recollection. We were even on the same ward but it only came back slightly to me once I walked through the locked ward doors and checked in. Interesting how a brain works. That I know, I haven't suppressed any other memories like that and found / find it very interesting that my brain protected me (and continues to protect me) from that memory.

The admitted me and had me lie down for a few hours. My bp by about 3pm was back to the new-normal-that-is-high-but-not-emergency-high. My hubby finished up his work and got here at 4:45 and then my OB showed up at 5. She said based on my bp readings, she no longer wanted to "bring 35 weekers into the world unless absolutely necessary." She ordered a blood panel, an ultrasound and a 24 hour urine catch to see the extent of my preeclampsia. Results were all due back Friday morning. Suddenly, the c-section that was scheduled for 5:15 on Wednesday got pushed until Friday lunchtime at the earliest.

I'll pause here and answer the "why a c-section?" question that many friends have asked so I suspect some of you are wondering. As it turns out, my cervix is a ROCK STAR. At 35 weeks with twins, my cervix is still totally closed. It is apparently in it for the long haul! My OB said it would take days to induce me (to first ripen my cervix and then get labor started) and she didn't think my bp could handle all that. I agreed (remember that I trust this woman implicitly).

Between Wednesday afternoon and Friday morning, they did more blood work, another ultrasound and a 24-hour urine catch to really see what my kidneys are doing as far as protein-in-urine goes. My blood work still looks good and stable and normal. The ultrasound was great. The 24-hour urine catch, however, was off the charts. They apparently want to see a number less than 300 and mine was at 1500. So it was cause for alarm. As I type this, they are redoing it to make sure things haven't become worse. I am in no danger of kidney failure, I am told, but it's still alarming to know my kidneys are taking real beatings right now.

I have been told we are on a day-by-day basis but that we won't be allowed to go past Thursday (36 weeks). So as of today, Saturday, we will have babies in 5 days ... OR LESS!

They're doing non-stress tests twice daily and checking my blood pressure every 4 hours. They'll do another ultrasound tomorrow and a biophysical profile of the babies at that time. And by lunchtime tomorrow, we'll have the blood work (they'll draw tomorrow morning) and the urine results. So we'll get another snapshot of what my body is doing.

For now, I'm trying my best to relax and enjoy my last few days of pregnancy /  without children. Friends are stopping by regularly, which is lovely, and my hubby is coming by, too. I have been sending him home at night so he gets a good night's sleep but last night he brought dinner and we sat cuddled up in my hospital bed watching football. It was lovely. I think that'll be our evening routine! He left on Wednesday on paternity leave and we decided he would not go back and instead would just take the week to himself (like I am doing). It'll mean one less week at the other end, but we both think it's important and worth it for him to have some down time and prep time before the babies come.

More soon!


Monday, November 11, 2013

"50/50 chance of babies within 10 days" ... !!!

Went in for our weekly NST today. Pushed it to today instead of the regular Tuesday because our specialist is going out of town tomorrow for 2 weeks and we wanted to see him one more time and say good bye and thank you.

Babies are still PERFECT in there. I had two slight contractions (one I didn't feel at all) during the 20 minute NST and the babies' lines were absolutely text book perfect.

My blood pressure, however, was all over the place. They took it right when I got into the room (after leaving a pee sample, picking up my bag, getting weighed which requires taking my shoes off, and waddling to the room) and it was 159/90. EEK! They took it again about 45 seconds later after I'd been sitting down and had some cold water and it was down to a lovely 127/90. They took it at the very end of the NST and it was at 139/90. So it's all over the map but our MFM calls it "stable."

My protein in urine count was a different story. It was at 2+ for the first time ever. Made me cringe, but specialist said "we don't induce delivery on 2+ alone." He ordered another blood panel to see what things are doing so we can know for sure. Results later today. To be clear: I am NOT pre-eclamptic ... yet. But our MFM thinks it's a matter of time, unfortunately. Hence the babies coming early (me being induced).

We had a nice long talk with him and he said "there's a 50/50 chance of babies within 10 days." We both kind of stopped hearing or listening at that point as it sunk in.

10 days.

That's getting us to 36 weeks pregnant and no further.

Put a different way ... THAT'S NEXT GOD DAMNED THURSDAY!!!!! oh. my. god.

I find myself in a strange place. The infertile in me a year ago would have almost-KILLED to be in my position today. Almost 35 weeks pregnant with two perfect baby girls on the way. But the mama bear in me - the person who has grown over the last 9 months to be a mama to these girls - wants them to cook longer. Is MAD MAD MAD at my body that my body again will cause problems. It's been a long time (on an infertility timeline) since my body screwed up. But now, once again, it is causing problems. I should be grateful - no TTTS, no gestational diabetes, no complications at all until now - but I'm not. These babies are in this for the long haul - they want to go to term - but because of my body, they will likely have to come out early.

So what does a mama bear do in this situation? After spending the week eating tons of fruit in the hopes that it'll help? She consults Dr. Google about whether protein intake can help ward off pre-eclampsia. And, it turns out, there is some research to suggest it can. And mama bear realizes that her problems seems to have begun when she became less diligent about her three-times-a-day Boost intake (remember I was taking those religiously to stave off TTTS). So mama bear starts those back up (after calling papa bear to tell him that's her plan).

Mama bear also vows to increase her water intake even higher. I will not leave a stone unturned if said stone could hold the chance at a few extra days of cookin' or maybe even longer.

On more fun news (well, different news because babies within 10 days is actually pretty damned fun!), we got our nursery finished this weekend!!!


video


And on fantastic closing news, one of the donor egg IVF women I blogged about here got her first ever BFP! And it's a solid one with a fantastic beta this morning.


Friday, November 8, 2013

34+1

Appointment went well. Blood pressure is lower (130/90) and protein in my urine is still at 1+. MFM was happy about that and told us we have "at least one more week." But then told us the babies will be here before he gets back from vacation (2 1/2 weeks from now). So we're having pre-Thanksgiving babies it appears!

We were so anxious going into the appointment. I even did things at home expecting to not return from the appointment! We had a tiny argument in the car ride (great for my bp!) because my hubby was just so anxious. After the good appointment, we had a nice lunch downtown before hubby went back to work and I went home to take a much needed nap.

Babies passed their (second) biophysical profile with flying colors: each baby got an 8 out of 8! We saw more practice breathing and happy content babies. Baby A is head down and baby B is still breech - it appears she got stuck in that position so there she stays until A comes out!

I've been having some light contractions since yesterday. Nothing that hurts or stops me from doing stuff, but definitely something going on.

So now we wait! This is very very VERY exciting!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

34 weeks ... we owe them a car!

We got here. Many of you will remember that back at the end of May, at our first specialist appointment (when we were deathly afraid of TTTS and all other things potentially coming our way), hubby and I shook hands over my (then tiny) belly and made a deal with the babies: you stay in until 34 weeks and we'll buy you a car.

Is it silly for me to think they heard us?! Because it appears that they did.

Tomorrow, at 34w1d, I go back to the MFM. My blood pressure has been climbing every so slowly and then took quite a hike last week. My doc signed disability paperwork so I've been home this week lying around. I had hoped that a few days of lying around would help my blood pressure but then I went in for another NST on Tuesday (after a lovely coffee shop sit down with a friend) and my blood pressure was even higher than when I was working! To say I was disappointed and surprised does not do my emotions justice. When I started and all the way through until a few weeks ago, my blood pressure was always around 116/60. Tuesday's first reading was 139/94 and the second reading was 149/94. So things are looking a bit grim.

The good news is that lying around has REALLY helped my swelling. My feet no longer look like horrible painful (they weren't) sausages. I can see my ankle bones again and can even see a bone or maybe two on the top of each foot. And last night, I forgot to put my hand brace on to go to sleep but when I woke up to pee, I realized my hand wasn't hurting. I didn't put the brace on as an experiment and it wasn't until about 5am that it started to tingle and hurt. But I still didn't put my brace on.

Another scary thing that came out of Tuesday's appointment was that the protein in my urine was 1+. It's been "negative" most of the time and has come back "trace" a few times. They test the protein in one's urine because it can be a sign of pre-eclampsia (so too can elevating blood pressure). So I've got two red flags.

The good news is that my blood work (drawn on Tuesday) came back all within normal range. We see the MFM tomorrow for an ultrasound so we'll check in with him. The blood work may be within normal range, but is it rising? Is that a cause for concern?

I know we asked these girls for 34 weeks, but now I want more. I want them to be chubby and healthy. I want 2 more weeks at least. Keep your fingers crossed for us, please.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The power of RESOLVE

Anasara recently attended the Resolve of New England's super conference. I say "super conference" because it sounds like it was truly amazing and I wish I had had the opportunity to go to one out here (Pacific Northwest). Her positive experience got me thinking about RESOLVE in general and then got me weepy about how much credit I give the RESOLVE Portland group for helping me get and stay pregnant.

If you've never been to a RESOLVE meeting and happen to have one nearby, I urge you TO GO. GO. GO. GO. I suppose there is always a chance you'll regret it but I can't imagine that chance actually coming true. To even the most shy person, who doesn't like to interact with people regularly, I urge you TO GO.

Why? The power of being in a room with women who "get it" and who are going through what you're going through is absolutely, positively PRICELESS. I had looked at going to my first meeting back in spring 2012. The meetings here happen on the third Tuesday of the month and it turned out that I learned about it just after it happened. And then I managed to forget I wanted to go. It wasn't until two weeks after my miscarriage and D&C that I went and let me tell you my ONLY regret: that I hadn't gone sooner. That regret is one I heard from most women who showed up at the meetings. They all wished they found the group sooner.

That first meeting, I chose to open up and talk about our experiences. As I sobbed my way through our "resume" and ended with our recent miscarriage of two weeks earlier, the "ugggs" and groans I heard did not make me sad. They gave me strength. I realized I was in a room where it was ok for me to sob and to talk about having no hope left. And it was also a room full of women who would help me get my hope back and get back into the saddle to try again. I did not go there seeking pity. I don't know what specifically I went there for - it was absolutely a last resort of a zombie me just going through the motions - but I found it, whatever it was. I also found: friendship, safety, understanding, a place to vent, love, similarity and acceptance. I also saw that I was NOT a two-headed monster completely alone in this world of infertility. That this is an epidemic that picks anyone as its victim. And that first night, the other victims were smart, funny, educated, kind, beautiful women who helped me begin the healing process that would allow me to see myself as those positive things once again.

By November, we had a "small group spin off." Four of us met one off-Tuesday at a Japanese restaurant. That was the first and only time we met at a restaurant. Since then - over a year now - the small group meetings have been happening at someone's home. There were only four of us that first small group meeting. The group size has now grown to over 15. Of the four of us who started the small group, two are new moms, I am almost there, and the fourth is 7 weeks pregnant. Of the 15+ in the group, there are at least 6 others (not including me or the 7 week pregnant lady) who are pregnant and on their way to being RESOLVed.

Do I credit RESOLVE with getting me and all those other women pregnant? Not entirely, but certainly to some degree. There is research out there showing that the power of being in a support group is astounding. That women who are engaged in some kind of in-person support group of some kind get pregnant faster despite years of infertility. The power of the hugs and cell phone numbers (for emergency texts in a panic) was invaluable.

Many of us now attend what was initially dubbed "pregnant after infertility" meetings, another group we started. But we don't talk about infertility much at all, and even changed the title to "future moms and beyond" because two women from the small group who are pursuing adoption now come. We talk about car seats and bottle versus breast feeding. We talk about pregnancy symptoms and stroller options. We exchange maternity clothing and any baby items we don't need or got duplicates of. We ply each other with so much information that we walk away happy and content, filled with more than just anxiety about being pregnant. We are filled with love, hope and excitement for what is coming our way.

If you have a RESOLVE (or other) meeting nearby and have been considering going - or even if you have decided you don't want to go - I urge you to get your butt there asap. You can always choose to not go back, but I do suspect you won't make that choice.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

When donor egg doesn't work

I have been sitting on and thinking about this blog post for many months. What does one do when donor egg doesn't work?!

Back in June and then over the summer, I watched the heartache of "when DE doesn't work" in person. And it brought back all the memories from last summer when our DE miracle pregnancy went completely south.

There is a woman here I met through resolve meetings. Let's call her Z. She has become a very good friend outside of infertility stuff and I can't imagine her not being my friend. We have so much in common and see each other - even now as I am 33 weeks pregnant - on a regular basis.

When I met Z, she had just done her fresh DE transfer ... and it had failed. I met her through another resolve member. Z was in a very dark space and, having just come out of a very dark space myself, I wanted to help. We bonded and we both geared up for another transfer: both FETs this time.

My FET worked. Hers did not. That was the last of her embryos and she and her husband were left in a place that felt very much like the beginning of the road (or end of the road): what in the hell next?!

Then, over blogging, I watched Rebecca go through a DE cycle that was also supposed to work. Like Z, she did everything right. She had high quality embryos. And she still got a bfn. She is now bravely gearing up for a transfer with a donor egg embryo and a full-on donor embryo. Please stop over there and wish her luck and support.

And then, through a FB group, I watched another woman who has gone through multiple DE cycles - all of which have failed.

DE is. supposed. to. work. Period. I think it's safe to say that women who go the DE route do not do so lightly. We choose / decide to give up on our own eggs, our own DNA and family legacy and history. We sometimes give up the chance at having our child(ren) look like us. We do so because our drive to experience pregnancy, to share life, to birth a child beats the need to pass on our DNA. Most of us end up saying "I don't want to have a daughter and pass along my infertility problems anyway" when talking about the choice to go DE. We go the DE route knowing that our children will not have our parents' DNA. Our children won't be biologically related to my (the woman's) sister's future children. Even if we get a good medical history on our donor, we will never ever know the full extent of her and her family's medical history so we will never be able to properly and fully answer medical questions at a doctor's office; neither will our donor egg children when they are grown.

DE is supposed to give us what we yearn for, after we choose to give up what comes so naturally and easily to many others. Too often, as I have seen, DE does not work. Is the fall and despair from a failed DE cycle worse than a non-DE cycle? While I have not had a bfn, I did miscarry after a DE cycle and I can tell you that was the worst experience of my IF "career." When we got pregnant and then saw and heard a heartbeat, we thought we had made it out. We would have a baby. Things would finally go our way. To have DE fail was more destructive to me (and my hubby and our marriage) than anything else we experienced.

Most DE transfers happen with perfect, high-quality embryos. Those transfers are supposed to work. It is beyond unfair when they fail once, and even worse when they fail more than once.

Friday, October 25, 2013

32 weeks - we made it - no pic though

(Sorry no pic. Unlike earlier in the pregnancy when I bounced more out of bed and took a bump shot, getting out of bed these days is virtually impossible, which leaves me groggy and running late, so I forget to take a photo. Photo coming probably over the weekend.)

Yesterday, October 24, we hit what all doctors are calling "safe zone." We saw our MFM and our OB last week and both said what was music to our ears: "safe zone." It's an amazing feeling, surreal really, and we are feeling so lucky to be here. My hubby was remembering back to when our RE graduated us way back when. She said "you want to make it to 24 weeks, but really there is a lot of development that happens between 24 and 28, so try to make it to 28." She thought they were coming REALLY early. Back then, we hoped and hoped and hoped to make it to 28. Little did we know that we would SAIL right past it and then some.

Over the past week, the infertile in me has raised its head a bit. I have found myself hyper sensitive to absolutely everything going on in my body - back to the days when every twinge or cramp or symptom got over analyzed and kept me awake at night. I've found myself doing that again: "the baby movements seem smaller" (doc told me they do get smaller as the babies run out of room) or "I'm not hungry really but I am pooping a lot, is this a sign of early labor?" (turns out eating small meals constantly adds up!) or "I have more heartburn, is this preeclampsia?" (resolved this one last week and will look again at the MFM appointment in a few hours). While it is VERY important to be aware of changes, I have decided not to hyper- and overanalyze. What does that look like? Well, it means staying in touch with my docs and reporting changes, but it also means giving myself a break. So far - knock on wood - my body has shown that it is not only ready but literally MADE to carry twins. As far as pregnancies go, this has been a dream pregnancy. As far as twin pregnancies go, it's been more on the side of "miraculous." I need to trust my body. I need to trust my babies. And I need to continue to trust my doctors. They have helped us get this far with frequent monitoring and reassuring. My near constant craving for fruit no doubt has infused these babies with lots of healthy vitmins and nutrients, and my good fortune of having almost zero nausea and absolutely zero vomiting has allowed me to eat healthily throughout and take my vitamins and supplements every single day.

I know things can change overnight. And I know that having a very healthy pregnancy does NOT mean I'll make it to 35 weeks, like we are hoping. But certainly taking the emotional stress out of it and giving myself a break and ... here goes ... ENJOYING THE END OF THIS PREGNANCY!! ... can only help.

This will likely be THE. ONLY. TIME. I am pregnant. In my whole life! I am not expecting (or even hoping) to be that infertile who gets knocked up accidentally a few months after giving birth. I am not thinking or hoping that we'll do another cycle with our two remaining embryos (who knows what we'll do with them, but for now, we will continue paying to store them). I am expecting to have my babies sometime in the next 5 weeks and 6 days and that to be it for my ovaries and uterus. It takes a whole lot of stress out of the "what happens during delivery" concept but it also is a good reminder: ENJOY THE END OF THIS PREGNANCY!

So here goes nothing. Since they won't let us get past 38 weeks, I know I have 5 weeks and 6 days at the LONGEST. And I know I have at least today at the SHORTEST. Somewhere in between then, my baby girls will come. They'll have an official birthday (wild!) and their names will become public. We'll know whether they have hair at birth (like the ultrasound showed) and what their lenght and weights at birth are. For now, though, that all remains a mystery. All I know is that I am loving being pregnant and I will allow myself to ENJOY THE END OF THIS PREGNANCY!

Monday, October 21, 2013

31+4 - an update

I am SO sorry I haven't posted in a while. I had good intentions on many occasions to post, but then life got in the way. And when I say "life," I really mean "my hands." They are TERRIBLE. So swollen and sore. When I wake up, after not sleeping at all (due to needing to pee 5-6 times a night, sore hips and pulsating tingling hands), I cannot make more than a "C" with my left hand. It takes a while before I can make a very tender almost-fist.

Another reason is that I thought I had broken our computer. I randomly dropped it (thank you, hands) and at first, the screen wasn't working. Miraculously, it appears to be ok. Hope it stays that way.

At my OB's suggestion, I saw a DO last week for the carpel tunnel. I will be seeing him weekly until I deliver. Everyone has said "it'll only get worse before it gets better" and "the best medicine for it is delivery." Yikes. As it stands, unless it gets instantly better with delivery, I won't be holding my babies while standing up as I don't trust my hands one bit.

On better news, the babies are doing GREAT. They got weighed 2 weeks ago and each baby is over 4 pounds - ahead of the game, which is fantastic. And I'm rapidly approaching the golden "32 week" date (Thursday) so things are really looking good around here. The girls' fluids are still the same, my cervix is long and closed (at the last check) and I've only been having random contractions so nothing anyone is worried about.

I did have to go in last week unexpectedly to the specialist because I woke up and my face seemed more swollen than normal. Hubby immediately commented on it so I called in. They had me come in for a urine sample (negative for protein - yeah!), blood work (negative for anything bad - yeah!) and a non-stress test (NST) because my blood pressure was ever so slightly elevated. Despite it's name, it was stressful for this mama but things looked great. Hilariously, baby A wanted NOTHING to do with the monitor. Everytime they put it on her, she'd do the biggest move I've ever seen and push it off. They'd have to come back replace it and tighten it. Finally she agreed to leave it alone. Baby B, on the other hand, didn't move it away once and just was content with them listening to her (perfect, beautiful) heartbeat. Here's a picture of the NST on my (enormous) belly.




A few days after this fiasco, I went in to see my OB at a regularly scheduled appointment. She measured my 31 week belly - I am measuring 41 weeks! It makes me want to scream when people (and I mean everyone) says "you're so small for twins!" They don't seem to hear me when I say "I am measuring more than full term for a single baby despite having 9 weeks of pregnancy left." Oh well. I am HUGE. Here's a belly pic from last week. Not sure where I was, but it was sometime just before 31 weeks.



Last week, we had our final two baby showers. My work threw me a lunchtime one on Monday and it was lovely. A pot luck with so many supportive and smiley faces. I shared it with a co-worker who is 5 weeks behind me (with one baby). Then, Friday night, hubby's work threw us what we joked was a "drunken baby shower." It was at a local brewery and everyone was happily getting tipsy (or worse) on microbrews and wine. It was so fun but by the time I got home - after being at work all day, then at the OB appointment, then straight to the baby shower - my feet were SO SWOLLEN. Yikes. Fluid retention (remember my hands!) is definitely my main pregnancy symptom. I'll take it as it's my only one, but it is really getting in the way of me doing anything. Permanently numb fingers make doing anything virtually impossible.

What else? Oh, a week and a half ago, we went in for our "car seat safety check." The seats went in great but once they were in, we quickly realized that our Subaru Forester wasn't big enough. I had to bring my seat forward almost a foot from where I like to have it to drive. I could barely get in the driver's seat with my giant belly. Hubby and I spent Saturday trying to figure out a solution: manipulate the carseats; I'll just drive with no shoes on ever. None of those "solutions" seemed viable. So we went car shopping on Sunday and traded our fully paid off 2006 Subaru Forester for a car payment on a 2013 Subaru Outback (with 10,000 miles on it). We are, despite the car payment, so happy with the new car. AND IT'S STICK SHIFT! I grew up in Europe and have never owned an automatic car. I chocked it up to enough of an identity crisis to be having babies (I've gained over 50 pounds already) and to be taking 9 months off work ... but in reality, I JUST WANT A STICK SHIFT! My identity is wrapped up in that and, more importantly, I love love love driving stick shift. Friends with kids have told me "you'll want your extra hand to deal with your babies" but I just can't agree with that. I don't want to be an unsafe driver and therefore, I don't want to be using my other hand to turn around partially or fully even for a second. If there is a true emergency, I'll do what I need to do and / or pull over. But if it's something benign, in my opinion, it's not worth risking everyone and other drivers on the road to turn around. So, therefore, I have my second hand still for my stick shift. YEAH YEAH YEAH! I also really want my daughters to learn how to drive stick shift for so many reasons. This will get them accustomed to it very early on. Oh, and the carseats fit in PERFECTLY with so much extra room.

I'll try to be better about posting. I'll for sure get a 32 week picture up once (knock on wood) I get there.


Monday, September 30, 2013

Bump picture - 28+4

Just because I didn't have one last week, here's a shot from this morning. I pulled the grey sweater up because it's not form fitting.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

28 weeks!

Well, we made it - THIRD TRIMESTER OFFICIALLY! Twin complications aside, 28 weeks = these girls have a 90% survival rate if they were to come out now. This is amazing to us both. I can feel A move ALL. THE. TIME. It hurts sometimes, even, when she throws a shoulder or drags her elbow against my thinning belly. Makes me jump but I wouldn't change it for the world.

I don't feel B as much, but nobody seems worried and says it's because of my placent placement. I do feel her when I drink cold water and then lie on my left side - she apparently doens't like being squished and lets me know!

I had a scan on Tuesday and they look great. A's heartbeat was at 162 which made the u/s tech re-test her because 160 is the "ok" cut off apparently. Her next heartbeat check was 156. Tech (who TTCd for 10 years and finally had an IVF cycle work for her 12 years ago) was much happier and told me baby's heartbeats go up with braxton hicks contractions. I was in there for a scan because I'd been having a LOT of BH contractions as well as some slight cramping and some rectal pressure. Turns out my cervix remains LONG and CLOSED which is a good sign.

We finished our 4 week birthing class on Tuesday night. It was a really helpful and useful class but I am glad that it's over. I am so so so tired these days that having a class from 7-9 on Tuesdays that usually went a little long and didn't have us getting home until 9:40 or so was exhausting to me. The work weeks recently have been really taxing on me. Plus the travel to Chicago and the week day classes, I was feeling a bit like a walking zombie. Still am, but am glad we don't have many evening commitments left. Next week, however, we have one final evening class - Infant CPR for 3 hours.

We're taking our "all things twins" class this weekend, Saturday and Sunday 1-5. Will be good, I hope, and is taught by a doula who specializes in twins. We're meeting with her on October 6 to see about hiring her to be our doula. She's the owner of a doula group that also does post-partum doula so we'll be hiring someone to come in a couple of nights a week to give us some reprieve (we've been told by other twin parents that it is a MUST).

This past weekend I had my Portland baby shower, thrown by two good friends. So many friends, old and newer, came to celebrate these girls, including one of my oldest friends from California. It was truly amazing to be surrounded by so many strong, independent women, all sending their energy our way. We didn't play any games other than "guess the size of her belly" with ribbon. I actually won, and was only an inch off on the size (I drew out a ribbon that was 108 centimeters long and my belly is 109 centimeters wide) but I of course don't get to win that game. The winner was pretty close, I believe. It was HILARIOUS how small and large some people guessed. The shortest wasn't even 1/2 my belly and the longest probably fit around me twice. Yikes!

On the whole, I am doing well, but I am also really starting to feel this twin pregnancy. I am measuring at 35 weeks and my back and knees feel it. My knees HURT when I crouch down and I let out a grown. My hands are both always tingly from the carpal tunnel and they hurt, so watching me get up from the ground or out of bed is hilarious since I don't have stomach muscles and don't have hands that are easy to rely on or put pressure on. My fingertips are totally numb, which means I have to be careful picking things up so as not to drop them. And while I used to be the fastest walker around, I now get passed by absolutely everyone as I waddle my way around. I am not sleeping - I am up to pee 3-4 times a night and then also awake at other times because my hips ache or my hands are tingly and sore. I used to wake up with the sun, which in the summer time means before 5am. Now, it's a struggle for me to get out of bed by 8 and I just want to lie around and snooze. I have never hit snooze on the alarm before this pregnancy and now it is my best friend!

My doc told my this week that I look tired and that he wants me to start to pull back. I am trying to figure out how to make that happen.

No belly shot yet but I will take one and upload it.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

27 weeks!

This was a big week. Depending on which calculation you use, I am either in the final week of the second trimester now or ... THIS IS THE START OF THE THIRD TRIMESTER. Either way, EEEEEKKKKKKKK!!!!!!

We flew to Chicago last Friday. Flying was on the NO list for the majority of this pregnancy. Why? Well, irrationally, I blame a couple of things for my miscarriage last summer. I was in a 3-day trial the week we lost the pregnancy, so of course trial work was OUT as soon as I got pregnant. But then I also flew to Chicago for a family weekend get-together - two weeks later, the pregnancy was over. I know neither of these things likely had anything to do with the loss, but both of them were OUT as soon as I got pregnant this time.

However ... our MFM urged us to have a baby shower with family there. "Tradition" he called it and told us we deserve to engage in these fun activities and create memories with family. So we booked mileage tickets and headed to Chicago.

The shower - themed "Thing 1 and Thing 2" was thrown by two of my sister-in-laws. It was hosted at my mum's house as she has a beautiful gorgeous amazing garden. The weather could not have been nicer and we had a garden party. Almost the whole family was there and even long-time family friends from New Hampshire and Kentucky came in for it. I was overwhelmed and cried a few times during the day.

I wore compression socks, drank more water than I thought possible and walked around a lot on the flight there and home. And ... YEAH ... the babies didn't die! I was so happy to feel them Monday afternoon. I think they were tired, though, because they were much quieter than usual. They're back to their rambunctious selves, though, which I love.

I had an 27 week OB appointment today. Again, they look wonderful. Perfect. Great. All good news.

And, because I am carrying twins, I am measuring THIRTY-FOUR WEEKS! Wow. 34 weeks. That's almost full term.

I did catch a cold this week, probably from the travel and a compromised immune system. It had me home from work yesterday at lunch and all day today. I slept most of today after the OB appointment and am now feeling much better. My back is spasming from the cold - I always carry a cold in my back - but gentle stretching is helping.

I do laugh that I caught a cold. On Monday at a work meeting, I sat next to a woman. She moved away saying "I have a cold, you don't want to sit next to me." I said "oh, I'm not worried." Why did I say that? Because I never ever ever get sick. I have the most awesome of immune systems (probably EXACTLY why I needed to get the natural killer cell treatment to get and stay pregnant). My immune system now? Not so great. Apparently, it sucks. I got sick Tuesday night, less than 24 hours after any exposure. Oops!

On a much more fun note, two handmade quilts from Toni arrived today. THANK YOU! They are beautiful and the girls will absolutely be safe and warm and happy in them.

Finally, and sorry for the disjointed nature of this blogpost, we have our Portland baby shower Saturday! I cannot wait to see dear friends, including one who is coming up from California. Again, I feel so so so honored. Also coming is my infertility yoga instructor who is a mom through donor egg. And many of the brave women I met through this IF journey are coming, despite baby showers traditionally being hard on an infertile. I simply cannot wait to have the girls surrounded once again by strong, loving and supportive women. 

I am feeling so very lucky right about now. Let's continue to hope that things continue to go so well.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Big couple of days

On Monday, I went in for my glucose test. I was a little nervous about it, given that I have a twin pregnancy (higher risk for gestational diabetes) and that I have a sweet tooth that has mostly manifested itself in lots and lots and lots of fruit but also does love to eat ice cream and chocolate.

Turns out, my worries were for naught. I passed the initial test and then passed the one hour and two hour test with flying colors. Apparently everyone at the office was holding their breath on my results and was ecstatic at how good the numbers were.

I also had an anemia test and the nurse told me she has never seen such good blood count numbers in a twin pregnancy. I am of course very relieved with this news.

Today, we went in for an ultrasound at the MFM's office. We still go there every 2 weeks. The girls look GREAT - their fluid sacs are equal (TTTS red flags if not), their bladders and stomachs were easily visible (TTTS red flags if not) and their sizes are almost the same (9% difference and anything over 20% difference is a concern). One weighs 2 pounds 1 ounce, the other weighs 2 pounds 4 ounces. The most conservative and worrier doctor read our ultrasounds (I was told to avoid her when I was looking for an MFM because she freaks out easily) and even she said things look perfect.

And my cervix - my beautiful and strong and diligent cervix - is still measuring over 4cm! Even with pressure. 

I was given the a-ok to fly to Chicago for our first baby shower - we leave Friday. So exciting!

So these past few days have been big and splendid and just amazing. The girls are moving and kicking like crazy and I have been RAVENOUS the past few days (the past few nights, I've had to get up to make a sandwich in the middle of the night, which is a first for this pregnancy). And my belly has been itching. So I think another growth spurt is happening.

So in love with these girls. So hopeful things continue to go well. Feeling so lucky.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

25 weeks

I can't help but think the girls (aka my tummy) had a growth spurt. I didn't realize until later that I was wearing the same shirt, but I think it highlights the change:

24 weeks:


25 weeks



This week, the carpal tunnel, especially in my left hand, has been so bad. I've been awake a lot at night in pain, which has made me very tired during the work day. I have taken to icing my wrist and hand throughout the day and evening and will try to pick up a carpal tunnel wrist brace (OB's suggestion) for at night. Ouch.

Other than that, things are good and easy. Girls are moving a LOT and I'm still feeling pretty good.

Monday, September 2, 2013

24 weeks - VIABILITY! - and catch up from prior weeks

We were on vacation when I hit 22 and 23 weeks, hence no blog posts. I had shoddy internet access on my phone and no interest in being on a computer!

And then something remarkable happened. On Thursday, August 29, I HIT VIABILITY! I saw my doc on the Monday before and mentioned viability to him. He didn't seem as excited as me - he said "well, just because they CAN come out now doesn't mean we WANT them to come out now." No shit, doc, but it's still really exciting that we got to a place where these girls have a 39% chance of survival if something went totally wrong and they came out NOW.

In other news, my cervix at Monday's appointment is still long - over 4 cm - and closed. YEAH CERVIX! Let's hope it stays that way.

Pics, before I continue:

22 weeks:



24 weeks:






On the symptom front:

OH. MY. GOD.

--- I have developed pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel. Which means I don't sleep for shit at night. My left hand is much worse, even when I'm not sleeping on my left side. My hand and most of my arm falls asleep and is tingly. It wakes me up and it's hard to get back to sleep. I've taken to icing my wrists just before I go to bed and that seems to be helping but it's still a struggle to sleep at night. Between that and the peeing and hip soreness, I just don't sleep!

--- My poor poor feet are back to being very sore and swollen.

--- My hands are swollen - had to take my rings off. And by "take" them off I really mean "force" them off, causing some damage to my knuckle. Ouch!

--- Heartburn - came and now appears to have gone again, which is nice.

In other news, WE HAVE A NURSERY! We're still waiting for the glider we ordered to show up (probably another 6 weeks), but last Saturday, three guy friends came over and helped us move. It was like moving house because we had to move heavy furniture and books from every room in our tiny house. It was a mess. The guys started at 10:30, took an hour break for pizza and more beer, and finished around 4:30. Wow, do we have good friends!

Pictures below. I took this first one to show what the office became - used to be a lovely organized office but then we started getting baby items and hubby was working on our dressers which meant all the clothing inside the dresser drawers went in piles on the office floor. Man oh man was it a mess. One of our guy friends brought his family (who are our god kids, but for the fact that they aren't religious) and the adorable 3 year old opened the door and came running back to say "mommy, you HAVE to look in there." Here ya' go:






And then a video, now that our cribs (gifts from hubby's mom and step-dad) arrived:

video





Saturday, August 10, 2013

21+1 weeks

This was QUITE a week.

I turned 36 years old on Tuesday. I always take my birthday off from work and this year was no different. I love to take the day entirely to myself, with no obligations at all. Tuesday's goal was to create a baby registry, since my baby showers are happening in the middle to end of September. I got that accomplished, which was a great relief. 

Hubby and I had no registries for our wedding. We'd been living together quite some time already and didn't like the idea of "stuff" - so we asked guests to make a donation to a charity and tell us about it. We learned the hard way that people don't like to do things out of the ordinary.

This time around, even though we live together, we have almost nothing baby related. So we are taking advantage of the baby registry idea to get the items that we need. But it was causing me some stress that I hadn't started the process. On Tuesday, I spent about 4 hours and got the job DONE. It felt good.

Tuesday was also the day I made a Facebook announcement. Some friends had accidentally dropped lines on my page (that I asked them to delete) about me being pregnant. And last weekend, after a lovely outdoor concert, a friend posted pictures of me - looking pregnant. I untagged myself.

It was really important to me that any FB announcement paid homage to the difficult journey it took us to get here. So that no other infertile, upon seeing my announcement, would assume it came easily and get sad. I hated the idea of someone else wanting to throw her computer or break something else because of our news. So I made clear reference to the length of time, amount of losses, and need for medical intervention. The response was overwhelming - over 100 actual comments and over 200 likes. Then I got personal messages from people offering their support and love. It was a very special day.

I'm feeling great, but for a few minor problems.

Symptoms:

--- FEET HURT SO MUCH
--- heartburn kicked in this week
--- I am needing to eat more regularly or else I hit a wall fast and need desperate intervention

The projects I told you about last week all got done:

--- driveway refinishing - check
--- touch-up painting - check
--- blinds cleaning - check
--- window and screen cleaning - check

This week was HECTIC around the house and it exhausted me. We were supposed to be camping this weekend with friends - plans we've had many weeks. We left home with the car packed around 7pm on Friday night and got about 90 minutes into the 2 1/2 hour drive before I told hubby I had to turn around. I couldn't get comfortable in the car and was really anxious about not being comfortable all weekend. In the tent, on the camping chairs, anywhere. I have to go into work on Sunday to finish up some projects and the idea of getting home tired, only to go into work, and then to work hard Monday and Tuesday before my mother arrives, then to take a one week vacation (leaving home, meaning I have to pack stuff up), was just too much for me. I needed to go home and have this weekend at home.

So around we turned. I slept on the trip home, which only took about an hour because there was no traffic by then, and crawled into bed right away. I slept better than I've slept in weeks. Woke up Saturday around 8, walked the dog, then got back into bed and slept another 90 minutes.

Once we were both up, today was a busy project day.

We went to REI to choose a running stroller. Hubby is a big runner and the idea of him being able to take the girls running (i.e. him getting a break running and me getting a break from them) sounds delightful to us both. We chose a BOB running stroller, which my mother has asked to buy us.

Then we went to some local furniture stores. Hubby has sanded and refinished our bedroom furniture - it was his uncle's in the 60s and now we are making it into the girls' bedroom furniture. Which means we treated ourselves to new bedroom furniture. We have been searching for a few weeks but today we found some "Made in Oregon" in our pricerange and we ordered it. Should be here in about 3 weeks, which excites us, because we have hubby's guy friends coming over on August 24 to help move all the furniture in the house around.

Here's a photo of hubby doing the final staining:



Finally, we found a braided rug to go on the floor of the nursery - ordered that.

Hubby's mom and step-dad have asked to buy us our cribs, so we did some online searching for that. They're visiting next weekend so we'll go shopping with them when they're here.

On the baby bump front, I am still growing. In fact, one of the local furniture stores we were in today, the guy looked at me and said "you don't have 8 weeks left, do you?" when we were discussing how long the rocker would take to come in. I look much bigger than someone pregnant at 21 weeks with a singleton. It's pretty fun, actually, although I am slightly mortified and freaked out about HOW big my belly will get! For now, though, here's my belly (taken at 21+1 because we were rushing at 21 exactly to get our houseguest to the train station):




Thursday, August 1, 2013

20 weeks (and we have movement!)

20 weeks came along rather uneventfully. I even forgot to take a bump photo this morning because I was rushing for work. So I took it tonight.






I have noticed that my cats have been much more interested in and demanding of sitting on my bump. It started well before I had a bump but it's quite obsessive now. Even Emma (not pictured below) - who has never been one to sit on people - does it all the time. Anyone else experienced this phenomenon? I googled it a bit and learned that it could be a hormonal thing they're picking up on as well as them noticing my slower movements and more lying around than before. Whatever it is, it's fascinating!


Symptoms this week:

--- my feet still ACHE and I noticed last night at an outdoor concert, that my knuckle on my left pinky is all swollen. Ouch. I have been icing my feet as much as I can and it helps ... temporarily.
--- HOLY ITCHY SKIN! My neighbor gave me some oil against itchy skin a few weeks back and I didn't think I'd need it. And then this week struck and I have been lathering myself with it. My tummy is so so so itchy!

WE HAVE MOVEMENT! I started to officially feel the girls move. By "officially" I mean I think I've been feeling them move for a few weeks now but now I know it's them. They tend to be more active in the early morning and then in the afternoon. It's a wild feeling, not strong enough for my hubby to feel, but definitely something I'm aware of. Which is a new cause for concern when - like yesterday - I didn't feel them much and I go into a panic and pull out my doppler (long live the doppler!)

Four more weeks to viability and then 4 more weeks until our RE said she'd be ok with them coming out (28 weeks) and then 7 more weeks until we are ok with them coming out (35 weeks).

On the nesting front, we have been doing mad house projects:

--- each summer, I clean the windows and screens. Am too tired to do that this summer so we're having them professionally cleaned for the first time ever. I'm excited to see how they turn out!
--- we're having a hole in our driveway resurfaced
--- we had our blinds professionally cleaned - they've been up for about 6 years and we have a lot of fur creatures - again, I'm excited to see how they turn out.
--- we are having paint jobs that have been on the "to do" list done.

ALL OF THESE PROJECTS ARE HAPPENING IN THE NEXT WEEK!

Our bedroom furniture was my hubby's uncle's in the 60s. My hubby is sanding and restaining the two pieces and they're becoming the girls' room furniture. We will be investing in some lovely new bedroom furniture for ourselves!

And, finally, I have allowed talk and planning on baby showers to occur. One in Chicago and one in Portland, both in September. Which, as someone pointed out last night, IS ONLY SIX WEEKS AWAY!

On the non-planning side, the babies enjoyed another concert last night. We saw a Portland group - Pink Martini - at an outdoor venue with friends last night. It was just spectacular and knowing they can now hear (that's what I've been told, at least) made me so happy. It must be great for their developing brains to hear such beautiful voices and instrumentals. Simply marvelous evening.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

19 weeks

Accodring to Baby Center's "My Pregnancy" app, the girls' "sensory development is exploding!" Their brains are designating specialized areas for smell, taste, hearing, vision, and touch and there is some research to suggest they can hear my voice now. I'm not sure if they can hear my voice through my body or if they can also hear my hubby's voice, but either way, it's fun to know they're listening to me!

It has been hot hot hot here in Portland and I have been feeling very big (already) this week. And tired. And overheated. And my arches and back hurt a bit. I guess that's what being 19 weeks with twins feels like!

Hubby and I met some of the resolve support group women and their hubbies for a fun night of karaoke on Tuesday. I'd seen many of them individually (they've become good friends) but not all of them. One woman who is new to the group since I "graduated" didn't know I have twins inside. She was shocked at how big I am already - until I told her there are two. Yes, I am big. Hubby and I walked another donor egg pregnant lady to her car at the end of the night. She's pregnant with a singleton and only 5 weeks behind me - still, she's barely showing. Hubby said "I guess a lot happens in 5 weeks" and then I reminded him that my uterus is about 6 weeks larger than a singleton's at this stage, so I'm more like 11 weeks ahead of her. Such a difference!

Symptoms:

--- still taking almost daily naps, even if they're only 10 or 12 minutes in length (i.e. on my office floor when I can snag a quick nap)
--- arches are still sore
--- few more random nose bleeds this week
--- hips and knees and ankles still sore when I sleep
--- I am someone who always falls asleep immediately - not this week, though. I've been lying awake for a good 15-20 minutes, which is really unusual ... and exhausting!

We've been looking into classes and found a "all things twin" class that we're taking at the end of September. I've also found a breast feeding class and a few other interesting classes that I'll register us for. And I finally registered for the "Moms of Multiples" group locally so I can take advantage of all they have to offer.

Finally, here is week 19's bump photo:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

18 weeks - they're GIRLS!

We had our anatomy scan at 17w6d. While we were both excited to confirm our suspicions that they were girls, we were more anxious about the actual scan. We agreed that we would forego knowing their gender until birth if it meant we had healthy babies. We got lucky - we got both!

The scan went great. They were, as usual, uncooperative in that they were moving a ton and pushing each other out of the way. One was literally using my bladder as a trampoline which was so fascinating to watch on the screen since I couldn't actually feel it. The tech started with A but B was so persistent that she wanted her turn that the tech moved to B and then went back to A. It was hilarious. I have a feeling B is going to be the more pushy baby / human but time will tell.

Going into the scan, our chance of Down's was 1/240 and had we seen any markers or red flags, we would have done an amnio. The scan, however, showed no soft (or hard) markers and the measurements were all spot on. That cut our risk down to 1/480. While I might have still considered an amnio just to know, when asked "so no amnio?" by our MFM, my hubby quickly answered "No!" I agreed immediately and that was our decision.

There was also no sign of TTTS which is just fantastic!

And my cervix was long and closed, even with pressure put on it to mimic standing (4.5 verus 4.2 with pressure).

They are amazing. I cannot believe how much we could see - bladders, kidneys, stomachs, 4 chambers of their hearts, brains, bones - and how much they look like little humans. WOWOWOWOW! The feminist in me still staunchy believes that they don't have rights yet (*** I am not interested in a debate on this statement ***) but the mother-to-be in me is just amazed at their development and how amazing they are.

And they are GIRLS!!! We spent about 90 minutes after the appointment calling every immediate relative (my hubby has 5 brothers, they each have partners, he has 4 parents, I have three parents and a sister, and he has a grandmother). The reactions were priceless and precious and we were beaming. Literally had sore faces from smiling so much. We were, if you will, tickled pink!

Hubby's dad - who was right on the other 3 grandkids - was sure we were having boys. So we called him up and said "you're getting two more Bears fans" and he said "I told you so!" and then we said "two more pink Bears fans - they're girls!"

To my mum, we said "we all have something more in common!" and she picked up on it immediately and said "you're having two girls" (my mother has two daughters). My dad, who is one of the smartest humans I have ever met, didn't pick up on it so fast. We said "you and [my hubby] have one more thing in common!" and my dad thought we were talking about the fact that he and my hubby each have a penis. My hubby said "nope, that would not be a new thing in common." Then my dad said "oh, it must be an extension of that then" (meaning two boys). It was absolutely hilarious to be talking about penises with my father!!!

Here they are!






This was taken the following morning, at my 18 week mark. Looking bigger, I think!




I left work early yesterday and bought a pink hydrangea. Initially - before calling everyone - we had planned to have a photographer friend take some photos of us in black & white and then with a pink hydrangea (my hubby's favorite flowers are hydrangeas). But we had too much fun calling people.

This now decorates our living room:



And then today (18w1d), I sent my hubby to work with pink cupcakes. He reluctantly took them (claimed he didn't want to annouce but I know him - he was just embarrassed), but then soon called me to say there was a spontaneous party and his secretary even found some pink streamers and made a sign about the girls! I could hear it in his voice that he was just thrilled and so happy.



So, in a nutshell, we're over the moon. Shit got REAL after Wednesday's ultrasound. We might actually get to be parents out of this!

As far as symptoms go, my only new one this week was to get two nosebleeds on Tuesday. But I haven't had another since.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

17 weeks - half way to a car (???)

Still here. Still pregnant. 17 weeks today and amazed by and in love with this whole thing.

At our first u/s at the MFM (Maternal Fetal Medicine), hubby and I shook hands on top of my belly and made a pact with the babies: you stay in until 34 weeks and you get a car on your 16th birthday.

Today marks the half way point on that pact.

(many of you have lovingly asked whether they'll have to share a car and my answer is (1) yes, they share a god damned placenta so they can bloody well share a car and (2) they're always so snuggled up in there that I can't imagine they won't WANT to share a car!)

The past week and a half has been fun. The babies went to their first concert - Fleetwood Mac - and even though the MFM told me they can't hear yet, I am certain they can feel vibrations so I'm counting it. They also went on their first camping trip. We took a trip to the Olympic National Park over the 4th and camped there. They did great and only woke me up to pee twice a night ... every night ... !!!

Since getting back, I was peeing three times by 1am, so I got a little worried. Was that a sign of something going wrong (TTTS or something else)? I was also a little consistently crampy. So I called the MFM and went in for an u/s on Tuesday. They're still in there and they're still looking perfect. They're wiggly little things, which is fun to watch. And the peeing thing is just a result of my ever-growing uterus. (no pics from that ultrasound)

Symptoms:

--- My hips / knees / ankles ache at night.
--- I now am craving sushi (as a vegetarian, I don't have to give it up!) and no longer want those fold-over PB&J that I was craving 2 weeks ago.
--- When I eat too much (which isn't much at all compared to a few months ago), the left side of my ribcage hurts and I have to massage it. I have been told that my stomach is up in there / behind my ribs now.
--- Insomnia is gone for the most part, but I'm getting up to pee so many times that I am still really tired.
--- I'm sleeping later than I have in my entire adult life. It's hard for me to get out of bed before 6:30 and on the weekends when things are quiet, I have been known to sleep past 8 am (for anyone who knows me, you know that I get up with the sun, so around the solstice, I am up around 4:45 am!).
--- I am totally showing (see picture below). And loving it. No more trying to hide it.
--- Was in court on Tuesday on the 7th floor of an old courthouse. It was hot and I was standing up next to my client, speaking on his behalf. I suddenly got clammy and overheated. Sweat started to pour out of me. I had to tell the judge "I need to sit down" (and I NEVER sit while my client stands) and then, at the end of the hearing, I had to bolt out of the courthouse to take my suit coat off and get some fresh air. I apologized to the judge afterwards, which meant a fun conversation about me being pregnant. But it was not a fun experience. MFM told me that has to do with my blood circulation and it not getting back up from my legs and feet as easily / quickly.

I've gained between 20 and 25 pounds. Right before the transfer, I had been running a lot so I had a lot of muscle mass. That's all gone so that's why it's hard to tell whether I'm up 20 or 25. Either way, I am pleased with this weight gain as all the twin books suggest weight gain in the first trimester is very important for development and in the 2nd and 3rd is very important against pre-term labor. That's the hope, at least! Remember, babies, THAT CAR IS YOURS IF YOU JUST SIT TIGHT!!!!

I also added "The Bump" page so I can put all the photos there and I can see the transition (as can the rest of you).

Picture from this morning:


Thursday, July 4, 2013

16 weeks

Happy 4th! We made it to 16 weeks pregnant ... HOLY SHIT!

Not much to report. This past week has been busy for us but also relatively symptom free for me. I still really only want fold-over PB&J sandwiches and have added 3 high protein Boost drinks per day to my diet (to try to avoid TTTS). We had an ultrasound on Monday with our OB to try to learn gender but the little ones were not cooperating. Then we saw them again yesterday with our MFM and again, they weren't fully cooperating. Hubby and I are still convinced they're both girls, so we will see. Next ultrasound is our anatomy scan on 7/17 so we *should* know then!!

Monday night, hubby says to me "I don't know how to raise girls." I reminded him that he also really doesn't know how to raise boys. Then he said "what if they don't like me?" I giggled and told him "they're going to adore you. They're going to follow you around like little ducklings. You'll be their daddy!"


Here's a picture from yesterday's scan. They're lying head to toe in this one and still are all snuggled up.


And here is a 16 week belly scan from this morning:



Thursday, June 27, 2013

15 weeks today

Hot diggity, how on earth did I get to 15 weeks already?! I am so busy ignoring my pregnancy and hiding it from the real world that I can't believe I'm here already. My supervisor at work asked me when I'm going to announce, since it's a little hard on her to answer questions about my reduced caseload without being able to spill the beans. Also, I'm TOTALLY showing so it's a little silly that I just walk around pretending I can hide it by drawing my cardigan around my tummy.

Symptoms: I have some light cramping and INSOMNIA still. Which means EXHAUSTION still. We see our OB on Monday* and I will ask her to check my iron and B12 levels, just to make sure.

Also, my craving for fruit is GONE. I don't really want anything to eat, and have to force myself to eat. I have weird cravings now, like last night I asked for two soft boiled eggs (from our chickens, so I am ok eating soft boiled) and some baby carrots. I've been eating a lot of fold over sandwiches with peanut butter and my own home made jam (which is interesting because in all the years I've been making jam, I have never been interested in eating my own jam, even though it's delicious!).

I'm approaching the time when TTTS can start in an identical twin pregnancy, so I'm really upping my protein intake. Fingers crossed we don't fall into the 15+% of people who have to deal with TTTS.

Finally, here is a bump picture from this morning. I'm really showing!



And, because I don't think I ever added it, here's a photo from June 19th, when I was 13w6d (doc said "everything looks perfect" at that point):


* We hope to learn gender at the OB appointment on July 1!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

13 week update (actually my 13w5d update)

I was traveling for work last week and wasn't able to get on to do a 13 week update.

I entered the 2nd trimester on Thursday, June 13. Ummm ... HOLY SHIT! Provided these bubs are still in there (and I'm not always convinced), things are still moving in the right direction.

New symptoms:

--- I have been feeling some fluttering / movement for a few weeks now. At first I thought it was impossible but now I am convinced it's them. My theory for why I have been feeling them so early is two-fold: (1) I'm an infertile who has spent almost 4 years paying attention to EVERY damn THING  that happens, so of course I'm paying attention like a hawk, and (2) there are two babies in one sac, meaning the equivalent of one baby twice their size, meaning there is no surprise I can feel them so early on.

--- bring on the water works. I have been in or on the verge of tears since Friday. On Sunday night, my dog asked to go on a walk and that made me cry.

--- exhaustion is back full-on, as is insomnia.

--- the hemorrhoids and potential constipation have gone.

--- I am slightly crampy, which I am trying not to worry about.

And, because a few of you really were bugging me (in a good way!) to take a belly shot, I took my first one. I actually took two, but one is in my underwear and I don't want to post it. It wasn't until I looked at the two photos that I thought "oh, I am really showing" and "holy shit, this is real!"

I'll try to do them on Thursdays so it's easier to mark the progression

This photo is from 13w4d: