Sunday, January 20, 2008

Never a dull moment.....

Just when I think this pregnancy will be "textbook" the rug is pulled out from under me again.

On Monday, January 14, I got up and went to work just like any other day. I was tired all day, but other than that, felt ok. I finally e-mailed my boss at around 3:00 that I was going home early to rest. I made it home, took two Tylenol and sat down on the couch, when I felt something "odd". Jumped up and ran to the bathroom and saw that I was bleeding - not just spotting, but GUSHING. I have never been so scared in my life - ever.

I screamed at Kevin - the way he came flying down the stairs, he must have heard the terror in my voice. I cleaned myself up as best I could while he called the doctor and we jumped in the car headed for the ER. Looking back, he really shouldn't have been driving me - he was terrified, I was terrified and hysterical, and it was 5:00, so traffic was pretty heavy. Thankfully, we made it to the hospital in one piece and in record time - it's a miracle we weren't pulled over, I know he ran at least a couple of red lights and cut off several people. I think he was living out his "Grand Theft Auto" fantasies. :-)

I insisted he drop me off at the ER entrance and I'd go on in while he parked the car. I got in and both receptionists were with other patients. Now, normally, I could understand that, but neither of these patients looked like they were in crisis, yet here I stand, very obviously pregnant, holding my stomach, tears streaming down my face and they just SAT THERE. I finally had to yell at them to ask where I should go. Then, they started fiddling around, one of them got a wheelchair and got me seated, and SAT BACK DOWN at her desk, where she and the other receptionist proceeded to ARGUE over who had to take me upstairs. I was one second away from jumping out of that chair and WALKING myself up to L&D, when a security guard finally came and got me to take me upstairs.

As I was wheeled up to L&D, the only thing I could notice was all the pink and blue balloons on the doors to all the rooms, and thought to myself "will I ever get that now?". I just knew I was losing both babies, and it was sheer torture as we went up that hall - it was like slow motion. They wheeled me into a triage room where I was met by my OB an anesthesiologist, and a host of nurses. I stripped down and got in bed where they immediately did an ultrasound. The OB told me they'd already notified the NICU and that they were prepared to deliver right then if necessary. She did the ultrasound, and I saw the most beautiful wiggling babies I'd ever seen. She continued checking them, noted that they looked just fine and then took a look at my placenta. Turns out I have a very low lying placenta, and that appeared to be the cause of the bleeding. A small part of the placenta had started to separate itself from the uterine wall (placental abruption).

I was admitted, put on continuous monitoring, no food (in case they had to do an emergency c-section)and told I couldn't get out of bed for any reason until the MFM came to see me the next day. We had an fun night of "find the babies", which kept me up all night long with nurses coming in and out to try to get them on the monitors. By morning, I had so much ultrasound gel on my belly that the hospital gown literally had to be peeled off me each time they had to move the monitors. By morning, the girls had done well all night and my bleeding had slowed a lot, so my OB gave the order to let me eat, but I still had to wait on the MFM to come by and do his ultrasound.

The MFM had patients at two different hospitals that he had to go consult with at lunch, so he sent his u/s tech to come do my ultrasound and give him the report - thankfully, he looked at the report pretty quickly and took me off the continuous monitoring and allowed me up for bathroom breaks (YAY!!!) He reduced the monitoring to one hour per shift, as long as the monitoring looked good, that was all he needed - at this point, they weren't too worried about the girls - they were thriving and seemed to have suffered no ill effects.

My next monitoring time was when the night shift came on. The nurse came in around 9:00 to hook everything up, and I thought I was home free. Turns out my little girls had gotten in a good nap that afternoon, and decided they did NOT want to be monitored anymore, so they fought, and fought, and fought. She tried for two hours straight to get them on the monitors, and finally gave up at 11pm and said she'd let me rest a few hours and they'd try again. She came back around 2am, and tried for ANOTHER two hours, and nothing. She finally just left the monitors on and said they'd take what they could get, which turned out to be about 30 minutes on Natalie and absolutely nothing on Kate. The day shift nurse came in to try again and still couldn't get them to cooperate, so she finally gave up and said she'd talk to my OB. My OB came in and decided to just do an ultrasound to check on the girls, and if everything was ok, since my abruption seemed minor and the bleeding had stopped, would send me home.

She did the ultrasound and it was the sweetest thing. Natalie (baby A) is breech with her head up towards my ribs, and Kate (baby B) is sideways across my ribs. Natalie was using Kate's belly as a pillow. They looked great, and my bleeding had stopped, so I was sent home on bed rest.

At this point, we're still hoping to make it until the end of March - I'll be 36 weeks then and the girls will be good to go. My doctors have all warned that this COULD happen again, but every day we can make it, the girls will be better for it. They gave me the steroid shots to mature their lungs, just in case, but I'm optimistic that we'll make it a while longer.

Thanks for all of your thoughts and prayers - we could use all we can get. Our OB said the girls are "viable" at this point, but it would be a long, difficult road if they had to be born now, so please pray that we can hold off delivery for several more weeks.

Monday, December 24, 2007

What a difference a year makes!

I'm sitting here in my living room this morning, looking at the lights on our Christmas tree and feeling not one, but TWO babies kicking me. If you'd told me a year ago that this is what I'd be doing on Christmas Eve 2007, I probably would have laughed (actually it's entirely possible I'd have decked you!).

Three years ago today, we decided we wanted to be parents and started trying right after our wedding. We were so hopeful that Christmas, and just KNEW we'd have a baby by the following Christmas. It feels like a million years ago now.

Two years ago, we knew something was wrong. It had been a year, and nothing. My family all knew we'd been trying, and I was so upset that we didn't have that baby we'd planned on the year before. I had an appointment with a new OB/GYN the next month in hopes that he'd do more to help us than the one I'd been seeing.

A year ago, we were headed for adoption - we even got some baby items for Christmas since we were planning the adoption. A year ago, I was preparing for a D&C after a period that just would not go away (8+ weeks)and praying I didn't have something terribly wrong with me and I'd need a hysterectomy. A year ago, my husband and I were both lamenting the fact that we were facing yet ANOTHER Christmas with no baby in sight. A year ago, I cried at any reading of the Christmas story or movie about the baby Jesus - I was THAT devastated.

This year, I'm sitting here dealing with the aches and pains of a twin pregnancy, we've got all the makings for a nursery upstairs (it just needs to be put together), we've got the beginnings of Kate and Natalie's wardrobes in the closet, and have already started collecting cases of diapers. It's real this time, not some abstract possibility - THEY'RE COMING.

I cannot even begin to describe how grateful, blessed, excited and overjoyed we truly are. It's been a very long road getting here, but knowing what I know now, it was worth every minute of it, and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat. Do I wish it had been easier? Sure, but I also know that this journey has brought us together as a couple in ways nothing else could have, and that we'll be an even stronger family because of it.

So, for the first time in nearly 3 years, I'm going to ENJOY this Christmas, I'm going to laugh and enjoy my family and hug my niece and nephews just a little tighter this year knowing what a gift they truly are....and take a moment to wonder at the fact that their cousins will get to join in on the fun next year.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth!

Ok, ok, I KNOW it's been WAY too long. Things are going great with my pregnancy. We found out at our 9 week ultrasound that we are expecting identical twins. Then, found out today, that they're identical twin GIRLS!!!! We're so excited. My gut said girls, but I was afraid it was just wishful thinking. Maybe there is something to that whole "gut feeling" thing, after all. So, we've decided our little bladder kicker will be Natalie Elisabeth and the one up in my ribs is Kathryn (Kate) Rebekkah.

Things are going well. I'm finally over all that first trimester exhaustion and general feeling of yuckiness. I still tire easily, but not nearly as bad as it was earlier on. It's FINALLY sinking in that we're having TWO babies. We waited so long, and I think for the first several weeks, I was afraid to get too attached. I regret that I haven't let myself enjoy this pregnancy like I should have, but I think it's been self preservation - I couldn't let myself get TOO attached. It's finally feeling real now, though. I feel little kicks in my bladder (Natalie) and on my left side (Kate). I'm getting uncomfortable at night - both hips fall asleep regardless of which side I'm sleeping on, my arms fall asleep, I can't lay on my back or my stomach, and I now have to get a rolling start to get out bed. I'm loving every minute. :-)

I'll try my best to do better in documenting this second half of my pregnancy than I have on the first. :-)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

It's been a while.....

Wow, can't believe it's been so long since I posted.

I'll officially be 8 weeks on Sunday - I still don't think it has hit me yet. I'm excited about the baby, but it just doesn't feel real, which is disappointing. I'm sure it'll feel more real as I progress and start showing and feeling the baby move around, but for now, I just feel very tired and a little "ookey" some days. No full on morning sickness yet, but I have had days where I didn't feel too good. And the hunger....oh, my Lord! It's true - when you're pregnant, you're not just hungry as in "I could eat" hungry - you're hungry as in, "if I don't get something to eat in the next 30 seconds, I'll rip your arm off and start gnawing on it" hungry. Luckily, when that feeling does hit, it doesn't take much to satisfy me. I have still not gained a pound, but the clothes are definitely not fitting the way they used to, so I have a feeling full on maternity wear is in my near future.

We've had two ultrasounds and everything looks perfect - I officially graduated from my RE last week, and get to meet my new OB on the 24th. I suspect he won't, but I'm really hoping he'll do an ultrasound so we can get another peek. I got really spoiled my all the attention at the RE, so I will probably drive this poor doctor crazy.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lucky number 30!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's right!

I'M PREGNANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We got the official news from my RE on Friday 8/17/07, and I still don't think it has hit me yet. It still doesn't seem real. I'm actually a bit disappointed in myself about my reaction. I expected to be bawling like a baby - I do that, I get it from my Mom.

I haven't shed a tear yet, which is REALLY not like me. I think part of me still doesn't believe it and the part that does is terrified that something will go wrong.

So, for all the details, I had a sneaking suspicion (or hopeful thinking) last Wednesday that I might be, so I woke up at like 5 am and took a test. I honestly thought it was negative, but decided to take one final look, and low and behold, there was a line!!! I had to go wake Kevin up to take a look and make sure I wasn't imagining it. He saw it too!!!! So, if I was crazy, so was he. :-)

I kept testing (twice a day, even) from then until my first beta on Friday 8/17, and the lines just got darker and darker (I have quite a collection now!).

Every time I go to the RE for my pregnancy tests, my sweet, sweet nurse, Carla, always asks in her perpetually hopeful voice, "Do you have anything you need to tell me?". And my answer is always and pitiful little "no". Well, sure enough on Friday, she asked again while she was pulling my records up on the computer. Along with Carla, we also had Nancy - the office manager, in the blood room helping with paperwork since Carla was the only nurse on duty that day. When she asked, I quietly said "I think so...". It was the BEST reaction ever!

Nancy's head whipped around and she mouthed (you have to remember we're in a fertility clinic, so we always have to be sensitive to the other patients who may have not received the news they were hoping for) "ARE YOU PREGNANT?!?!". All I could do was grin and nod. Carla actually cried. About that time Dr. Bates was walking down the hall and Nancy stuck her head out and gave him a "thumbs up", so then he comes in, grinning from ear to ear. He asked if I'd tested and home, and I sheepishly told him, I'd taken five (it's actually eight, but I didn't want him to think I was obsessed or anything). He laughed out loud and said "You could have stopped at 4". You have NO idea how much joy it brought me to see their reactions. I had started getting used to the idea, but for them, this was news. I realized then that they've got some tough jobs - they always have to present this hopeful and positive attitude and they're constantly delivering bad news, watching women cry, seeing them stressed to the max, and it's moments like that one when it all works, that they really get to see how much what they do day in and day out impacts the women (and men) they work with.

So, I've had two betas now...the first came in at 65, the second at 183, which is great. We were looking for the numbers to double and they almost tripled. I go in tomorrow for one final beta to make sure my hCG levels are still rising at the rate they should be. Carla said we'd do the first ultrasound at 6 weeks, so I'm hoping to get to see something next week. Everyone is already placing their bets as to whether we have one or two in there. In addition to the family history of twins, we KNOW we triggered two eggs, so there is a good possibility, though my gut says it's just one. I'll be shocked if there are two!

We've told immediate family and close friends (except for Kevin's parents, so if you know them, PLEASE don't say anything yet) and I expect to tell more people once I see the heartbeat, hopefully next week.

Kevin commented the other day that he didn't realize how great the strain of this struggle was until it was over. And he's right, I had NO idea I had that much weight on my shoulders.

Please keep us in your prayers that everything will continue to progress well. I have no reason to think it won't, but after taking 2 1/2 years to get here, I'm scared to DEATH that something will happen. I hope to breath easier with each milestone, so hopefully I won't drive everyone around me nuts.

Monday, August 13, 2007

When God Gave Me Infertility.....

Another good one.....

What do I think God meant when he gave me infertility?

Couples experiencing infertility often receive well-meaning but extremely insensitive "advice." We can all list the most popular ones: "Just relax and you'll get pregnant," or "adopt and you'll get pregnant," of the most painful from those who think they've got the goods on God's plan, "Maybe God never meant for you to have children." The sheer audacity of making a statement like that never fails to amaze me.

These same people would never walk up to someone seeking treatment for cancer and say, "Maybe God never meant for you to live." However, because I am infertile, I'm supposed to get on with my life. It's hard to understand that people can not see infertility for what it is, a disease for which I have to seek treatment. What if Jonas Salk had said to the parents of polio victims, "Maybe God meant for thousands of our children to be cripples, live in an iron lung or die." What if he'd never tried to find a cure? Who could think for one minute that that was God's plan?

What do I think God meant when he gave me infertility?

I think he meant for my husband and I to grow closer, become stronger, love deeper. I think God meant for us to find the fortitude within ourselves to get up every time infertility knocks us down. I think God meant for our medical community to discover medicines, invent medical equipment, create procedures and protocols. I think God meant for us to find a cure for infertility.

No, God never meant for me not to have children. That's not my destiny; that's just a fork in the road I'm on. I've been placed on the road less traveled, and, like it or not, I'm a better person for it. Clearly, God meant for me to develop more compassion, deeper courage, and greater inner strength on this journey to resolution, and I haven't let him down.

Frankly, if the truth be known, I think God has singled me out for a special treatment. I think God meant for me to build a thirst for a child so strong and so deep that when that baby is finally placed in my arms, it will be the longest, coolest, most refreshing drink I've ever known.

While I would never choose infertility, I can not deny that a fertile woman could never know the joy that awaits me. Yes, one way or another, I will have a baby of my own. And the next time someone wants to offer me unsolicited advice I'll say, "Don't tell me what God meant when he handed me infertility. I already know."


Oh, how I could use a nice, long, cool drink right now.....

But, I realize God knows what he's doing. I haven't been forsaken or forgotten. I'm still learning through this process. I just pray that I'm on the downhill side of this lesson.....I'm tired, but I know that God won't give me more than I can handle, and that we'll get through this and come out better for it in the end.

About IF.....

I saw this many months ago, but came across it really hits the nail on the head....

Dear Family and Friends,

I want to share my feelings about infertility with you, because I want you to understand my struggle. I know that understanding infertility is difficult; there are times when it seems even I don't understand. This struggle has provoked intense and unfamiliar feelings in me and I fear that my reactions to these feelings might be misunderstood. I hope my ability to cope and your ability to understand will improve as I share my feelings with you. I want you to understand.

You may describe me this way: obsessed, moody, helpless, depressed, envious, too serious, obnoxious, aggressive, antagonistic, and cynical. These aren't very admirable traits; no wonder your understanding of my infertility is difficult. I prefer to describe me this way: confused, rushed and impatient, afraid, isolated and alone, guilty and ashamed, angry, sad and hopeless, and unsettled.

My infertility makes me feel confused. I always assumed I was fertile. I've spent years avoiding pregnancy and now it seems ironic that I can't conceive. I hope this will be a brief difficulty with a simple solution such as poor timing. I feel confused about whether I want to be pregnant or whether I want to be a parent. Surely if I try harder, try longer, try better and smarter, I will have a baby.

My infertility makes me feel rushed and impatient. I learned of my infertility only after I'd been trying to become pregnant for some time. My life-plan suddenly is behind schedule. I waited to become a parent and now I must wait again. I wait for medical appointments, wait for tests, wait for treatments, wait for other treatments, wait for my period not to come, wait for my partner not to be out of town and wait for pregnancy. At best, I have only twelve opportunities each year. How old will I be when I finish having my family?

My infertility makes me feel afraid. Infertility is full of unknowns, and I'm frightened because I need some definite answers. How long will this last? What if I'm never a parent? What humiliation must I endure? What pain must I suffer? Why do drugs I take to help me, make me feel worse? Why can't my body do the things that my mind wants it to do? Why do I hurt so much? I'm afraid of my feelings, afraid of my undependable body and afraid of my future.

My infertility makes me feel isolated and alone. Reminders of babies are everywhere. I must be the only one enduring this invisible curse. I stay away from others, because everything makes me hurt. No one knows how horrible is my pain. Even though I'm usually a clear thinker, I find myself being lured by superstitions and promises. I think I'm losing perspective. I feel so alone and I wonder if I'll survive this.

My infertility makes me feel guilty and ashamed. Frequently I forget that infertility is a medical problem and should be treated as one. Infertility destroys my self esteem and I feel like a failure. Why am I being punished? What did I do to deserve this? Am I not worthy of a baby? Am I not a good sexual partner? Will my partner want to remain with me? Is this the end of my family lineage? Will my family be ashamed of me? It is easy to lose self-confidence and to feel ashamed.

My infertility makes me feel angry. Everything makes me angry, and I know much of my anger is misdirected. I'm angry at my body because it has betrayed me even though I've always taken care of it. I'm angry at my partner because we can't seem to feel the same about infertility at the same time. I want and need an advocate to help me. I'm angry at my family because they've always sheltered and protected me from terrible pain. My younger sibling is pregnant; my mother wants a family reunion to show off her grandchildren and my grandparents want to pass down family heirlooms. I'm angry at my medical caregivers, because it seems that they control my future. They humiliate me, inflict pain on me, pry into my privacy, patronize me, and sometimes forget who I am. How can I impress on them how important parenting is to me? I'm angry at my expenses; infertility treatment is extremely expensive. My financial resources may determine my family size. My insurance company isn't cooperative, and I must make so many sacrifices to pay the medical bills. I can't miss any more work, or I'll lose my job. I can't go to a specialist, because it means more travel time, more missed work, and greater expenses. Finally, I'm angry at everyone else. Everyone has opinions about my inability to become a parent. Everyone has easy solutions. Everyone seems to know too little and say too much.

My infertility makes me feel sad and hopeless. Infertility feels like I've lost my future, and no one knows of my sadness. I feel hopeless; infertility robs me of my energy. I've never cried so much nor so easily. I'm sad that my infertility places my marriage under so much strain. I'm sad that my infertility requires me to be so self-centered. I'm sad that I've ignored many friendships because this struggle hurts so much and demands so much energy. Friends with children prefer the company of other families with children. I'm surrounded by babies, pregnant women, playgrounds, baby showers, birth stories, kids' movies, birthday parties and much more. I feel so sad and hopeless. My infertility makes me feel unsettled. My life is on hold. Making decisions about my immediate and my long-term future seems impossible. I can't decide about education, career, purchasing a home, pursuing a hobby, getting a pet, vacations, business trips and houseguests. The more I struggle with my infertility, the less control I have. This struggle has no timetable; the treatments have no guarantees. The only sure things are that I need to be near my partner at fertile times and near my doctor at treatment times. Should I pursue adoption? Should I take expensive drugs? Should I pursue more specialized and costly medical intervention? It feels unsettling to have no clear, easy answers or guarantees.

Occasionally I feel my panic subside. I'm learning some helpful ways to cope; I'm now convinced I'm not crazy, and I believe I'll survive. I'm learning to listen to my body and to be assertive, not aggressive, about my needs. I'm realizing that good medical care and good emotional care are not necessarily found in the same place. I'm trying to be more than an infertile person gaining enthusiasm, joyfulness, and zest for life.

You can help me. I know you care about me and I know my infertility affects our relationship. My sadness causes you sadness; what hurts me, hurts you, too. I believe we can help each other through this sadness. Individually we both seem quite powerless, but together we can be stronger. Maybe some of these hints will help us to better understand infertility.

I need you to be a listener. Talking about my struggle helps me to make decisions. Let me know you are available for me. It's difficult for me to expose my private thoughts if you are rushed or have a deadline for the end of our conversation. Please don't tell me of all the worse things that have happened to others or how easily someone else's infertility was solved. Every case is individual. Please don't just give advice; instead, guide me with your questions. Assure me that you respect my confidences, and then be certain that you deserve my trust. While listening try to maintain an open mind. I need you to be supportive. Understand that my decisions aren't made casually,I've agonized over them. Remind me that you respect these decisions even if you disagree with them, because you know they are made carefully. Don't ask me, "Are you sure?" Repeatedly remind me that you love me no matter what. I need to hear it so badly. Let me know you understand that this is very hard work. Help me realize that I may need additional support from professional caregivers and appropriate organizations. Perhaps you can suggest resources. You might also need support for yourself, and I fear I'm unable to provide it for you; please don't expect me to do so. Help me to keep sight of my goal.

I need you to be comfortable with me, and then I also will feel more comfortable. Talking about infertility sometimes feels awkward. Are you worried you might say the wrong thing? Share those feelings with me. Ask me if I want to talk. Sometimes I will want to, and sometimes I won't, but it will remind me that you care.

I need you to be sensitive. Although I may joke about infertility to help myself cope, it doesn't seem as funny when others joke about it. Please don't tease me with remarks like, "You don't seem to know how to do it." Don't trivialize my struggle by saying, "I'd be glad to give you one of my kids." It's no comfort to hear empty reassurances like, "You'll be a parent by this time next year." Don't minimize my feelings with, "You shouldn't be so unhappy." For now, don't push me into uncomfortable situations like baby showers or family reunions. I already feel sad and guilty; please don't also make me feel guilty for disappointing you.

I need you to be honest with me. Let me know that you may need time to adjust to some of my decisions. I also needed adjustment time. If there are things you don't understand, say so. Please be gentle when you guide me to be realistic about things I can't change such as my age, some medical conditions, financial resources, and employment obligations. Don't hide information about others' pregnancies from me. Although such news makes me feel very sad, it feels worse when you leave me out.

I need you to be informed. Your advice and suggestions are only frustrating to me me if they aren't based on fact. Be well informed so you can educate others when they make remarks based on myths. Don't let anyone tell you that my infertility will be cured if I relax and adopt. Don't tell me this is God's will. Don't ask me to justify my need to parent. Don't criticize my course of action or my choice of physician even though I may do that myself. Reassure yourself that I am also searching for plenty of information which helps me make more knowledgeable decisions about my options.

I need you to be patient. Remember that working through infertility is a process. It takes time. There are no guarantees, no package deals, no complete kits, no one right answer, and no "quickie" choices. My needs change; my choices change. Yesterday I demanded privacy, but today I need you for strength. You have many feelings about infertility, and I do too. Please allow me to have anger, joy, sadness, and hope. Don't minimize or evaluate my feelings. Just allow me to have them, and give me time.

I need you to be strengthening by boosting my self esteem. My sense of worthlessness hampers my ability to take charge. My personal privacy has repeatedly been invaded. I've been subjected to postcoital exams, semen collection in waiting room bathrooms, and tests in rooms next to labor rooms. Enjoyable experiences with you such as a lunch date, a shopping trip, or a visit to a museum help me feel normal.

Encourage me to maintain my sense of humor; guide me to find joys. Celebrate with me my successes, even ones as small as making it through a medical appointment without crying. Remind me that I am more than an infertile person. Help me by sharing your strength.

Eventually I will be beyond the struggle of infertility. I know my infertility will never completely go away because it will change my life. I won't be able to return to the person I was before infertility, but I also will no longer be controlled by this struggle. I will leave the struggle behind me, and from that I will have improved my skills for empathy, patience, resilience, forgiveness, decision-making and self-assessment. I feel grateful that you are trying to ease my journey through this infertility struggle by giving me your understanding.