Saturday, July 31, 2010

It's a boy . . . and a girl!

I have been largely absent from the blogosphere for the past week or two because work has been insanely busy. We had six important deadlines yesterday and we met them all. I am thinking I can now coast a little bit -- after working 10 and 11-hour days for at least a week and a half.

Yesterday we had back-to-back doctor's appointments, first with the OB and then with the perinattologist.

At the OB's they did the doppler heart monitor and the babies are doing great. Their heartbeats were both around 140 beats per minute. The doctor "measured" my midsection -- I thought he was going to bring out a measuring tape, but he just felt the height of my uterus on top of my abdomen. Interestingly, he said if I were having one baby, I'd be measuring about 20 weeks, but since there are two, it makes sense that I'm this size at 17 weeks. (This explains why I feel so giant next to my colleague who is only one week behind me in her singleton pregnancy.) I also had blood drawn for the AFP (alpha-fetoprotein) test that screens for an elevated risk of various chromosomal and other abnormalities. It will take 3 weeks for the results, but I'm just going to assume it's all good since we did the full chromosomal screen on the embryos and they were normal.

At the perinatologist's office, I asked if we could videotape the monitor during the u/s and was told no, unfortunately. They used to do that but too many patients took their videos home, saw things they didn't understand, and started freaking out, calling the office and asking crazy questions they don't really have time to answer. Something also happened that involved a lawyer, so now they don't do it anymore.

The sonographer asked if we wanted to find out the gender and I assured her: YES! So first we learned that Baby B is a boy -- he was proudly displaying his manhood for all the world to see. On the other hand, Baby A was being a bit coy at first, but after several minutes, the sonographer declared that Baby A is a girl. I breathed a big sigh of relief and let out a big, "Yay!" DH and I are both very pleased with this outcome. Later I asked the doctor -- after he repeated the ultrasound just to get a look at them himself -- how sure he is about the genders. He replied with a smile, "I am 100% sure that Baby B is a boy. And I am 100% sure that Baby A is a girl." Good enough!

Thank you, CCRM embryologists, for selecting a boy and a girl. CCRM absolutely will not discuss the gender of your embryos with you. They say, "We don't do gender selection." I had hoped that with five good embryos to choose from, they'd try to pick one of each.

Back to the sonographer's look at A and B. We had about 20-25 minutes to watch what she was doing. She inspected, photographed, and measured all kinds of things -- the heart, the brain, the abdomen, the spine, and more. I was chatting away, commenting on what we saw. We could see the heart pumping away and could actually see the two ventricles! I asked how big it really is -- maybe the size of a bean? She measured and it was 1.4 cm x 1.8 cm! She also measured one of the femurs for me and it's about an inch long. Amazing! Oh, the ultrasound assesses their weight (based on all of the measurements they take, I suppose) and Baby A is 8 oz. and Baby B is 7 oz. The What to Expect When You're Expecting book says at 17 weeks, a baby is about the size of the palm of your hand.

So apparently, everything looks good. We go back to both doctors at the end of August. I am so happy that things are progressing well. I'm feeling really good and so much more energetic than I was during the first trimester.

I've got one more week of work and then a week off for vacation to go see our families. I've been jokingly telling people that this is our last trip EVER. I'm sure that's not so, but it will be a while.

Hope everyone is doing well. Happy Saturday!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

16 week update

I didn't mean for 2 weeks to pass between posts, but I've been busier lately. I'm feeling much, much better -- normal, even -- and it's a really good thing because work has gotten super-demanding the past few weeks. I think this week, I never left the office before 7 p.m. On Thursday and Friday I was there until 8 p.m. I have three major deadlines next Friday and am spending as much time as possible trying to meet them. However, I refuse to work this weekend. I hope I don't regret that decision next week, but I've got to give myself a break.

In addition to work demands, we've been researching cars, car seats and stollers. Who knew all of that was so complicated? Today we are going to look at a few more cars and then we have a wedding late this afternoon, which should be a lot of fun.

I have my next ultrasound next Friday -- I can't wait! I've worried some about how they are doing, but my concerns haven't gotten out of control, thank goodness. I do think I felt some movement twice on Thursday -- so cool! -- but nothing since then. I will definitely update after the ultrasound.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Telling

When we decided to tell our news freely after 13 weeks, I didn't realize the first trimester actually goes until 14 weeks, but we stayed with the plan because our ultrasound during week 12 went well.

Unexpectedly, telling has been a bag of mixed emotions and thoughts. I had imagined it as pure joy. I realize now that I had imagined it as if I had conceived naturally in a normal amount of time -- as if this were a normal pregnancy announcement. Isn't that funny?

Some peoples' reactions made me laugh -- the woman at work who burst out laughing and was so excited for me, and then told me that she had suspected as much a month or more ago when I looked particularly green. Some people cried, including the woman at church who got pregnant when we did last year but went on to have a baby instead of a miscarriage, like we did. I decided that was her relief from the guilt.

When someone -- a guy, no less -- blurted out, "It worked!" in front of people who knew nothing of our IF treatments, I wanted to smack him. I gently told him later that we aren't telling everyone about our IVF because someday we need to tell the kids how they came into the world and it might be best if everyone they know doesn't already know this. I think he got the message.

However, in some situations, I have found that along with saying "we are expecting" comes a a great urge to explain how we came to this point. For three years, I've largely held in all the difficulty we've had conceiving, so now at moments, I have found myself wanting to explain how hard it has been or wanting to educate people about infertility and help them understand that it is all around and you just never know who's dealing with it, so be sensitive, people!). With some people I want to explain what an amazing feat this is -- this is no ordinary pregnancy, people, a WIZARD made my babies in a magical lab... I want them to marvel with me at what medical science can do. And I want to explain the enchanted feeling I had after discovering new hope with CCRM . . . I want to explain why I've been moody or distant or socially awkward for three years -- that there's a root cause to all of it.

But largely, I cannot explain all of that. People just aren't that interested, are they? They are quite interested in the fact that I'm pregnant with twins, but they want to think and talk about due dates and baby names. They don't really want the back story. I'm sure through trial and error I'll figure out what feels right about what to tell and what not to tell -- and to whom.

Some people have asked, "Do twins run in your family?" and when I want to, it has been so great to honestly answer, "They do, actually. My mom's mom and my dad's dad were both twins." I LOVE that because if I don't want to tell them the truth of how I ended up with twins, that's all I have to say. I am not a good liar and I don't like to lie, so having twins in my family history is really helpful. And this is snarky, but it feels good to say that to nosy people who have no business in my business.

One woman from church said, "Oh, so many people have been praying for this for so long." That one has had me thinking: have they been praying for this because they think we'd make good parents and we've been married for almost 4 years and we're both getting up there in age and well, it's just about time? Or did someone secretly spill the fact that we were struggling with infertility and have been doing treatments for years? Or maybe they just assumed such. I don't think I want to know the answer. If a bunch of people at church knew the real deal, I'm so glad I didn't know it. I probably would have skipped church a lot more often.

(Theological tangent, not intended to invite comments by readers who tell me I'm wrong about this or that God's timing is perfect. This is just what I'm thinking: I can't help wondering if sooo many people had been praying for this, why did it take so long? Why did it almost not happen? Kind of reinforces my thought that we are pregnant not because this is what God intended -- "you wanted this so bad, so God made it happen," as one of my friends said -- no, we are pregnant because we persevered through 5 IUIs and 3 IVFs and we paid Dr. Babycraft $25,000. Not that God had ill intentions for our pregnancy or that God wasn't part of the equation. I wholeheartedly believe that my faith has helped me along the way. Maybe God helped us find the patience to persevere and the belief that no matter what, we would find some peace through this journey, regardless of the outcome. And who knows, maybe that's what people prayed for:  not for a pregnancy itself, but for patience and peace. God is not Santa Claus, after all. But let me be clear:  I do believe God is in this thing and I need God to be; I'm just not sure God could have made this happen without a lot of help humans.)

Sorry about that. I bet I've never mentioned that I'm a seminary dropout. I took an elective called "Suffering and Evil" at one time that really helped me think through some of the above. Of course it was not thought through within the context of infertiilty; it was throught through within the context of my dad's brain injury and subsequent nine years of living hell betwen 1996 and 2005.

As we told people after church last Sunday, I had a bit of odd anxiety that was unexpected. I think it may have been the fact that I don't really like being the center of attention or the subject of discussion. Or it may have been that being "out there" and having people think I'm a normal pregnant woman is so weird. I do feel very pregnant -- have seen three ultrasounds to prove it and have physically been wiped out for much of the past two months -- but in some ways, it just feels better to keep the pregnancy news to myself and my close circle of friends who've known for a while. Now I move into this phase of being under a microscope and being subject to all kinds of unsolicited advice. The woman who said sooo many people have prayed for this also said, "Expect to be monitored closely by 150 people." That's nice on one hand, but yikes! What a change.

What a jumbled mixture of contradicting thoughts, huh?

The one place I haven't told yet is Facebook. I rarely update my status because I don't think people care what I'm doing. I generally reserve status updates for something big. Well this is big, but I've read so many other bloggers' posts where FB announcements of pregnancies really sting. I don't know who's out there dealing with infertility in my FB world, but I don't want to cause them pain. I thought about just totally coming out and saying, "After three years of struggling with infertility, I am expecting twins." But I don't want everyone who's my friend on FB to know I'm infertile. I've also thought about an email to a smaller group of FB friends. I will probably go that route.

Okay, this post was ready to go until I reread it and decided to add in that theological rant. Sorry again about that, and sorry for the length of this post. I've got more on my mind after listing to a Super Mom explain why cloth diapers and water births are best . . . But will save all of that for later.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

13 weeks today!

Okay, I should have posted sooner with an update. Sorry about that. All is well. It was a pretty good week. I spent the time that I should have spent posting and commenting on peoples' blogs trying to set up a private blog for our families to follow our progress. Everyone lives out of state so we won't be seeing them much before the babies are born. (And this blog is a little more information than I want to give my aunts and uncles and cousins and inlaws!) We do have a trip to see them planned in August but that will be our last visit with them until who knows when. Except for my mother who is growing more and more excited every day and will be visiting multiple times, I'm sure. She sent me the funniest email this week, rambling on and on about how she wants to be supportive and help as much as possible but she doesn't want to interfere with our lives . . . It became quite funny. I forwarded it to DH and simply said, "My mother is loopy." He replied and said she has the grandmother version of pregnancy brain. No kidding! She's 68 and has no grandchildren, so she's waited a while for this. I used to be worried about her interfering (and never going home) but now I'm grateful that she's so available to help out. I don't have any idea how I'm going to handle two babies at first and she will be a reassuring presence, especially since she's a retired nurse.

We had our first perinatal appointment on Tuesday for the first trimester screen and had a good, long "visit" with the babies. The sonographer probably spent about 15 or more minutes getting what she needed and then the doctor repeated the ultrasound for about 10 minutes. It was mesmerizing to watch them floating around, oblivious to gravity. Twin A was lounging on his/her back at one point, either sucking his/her thumb or picking his/her nose with legs crossed -- as if he/she was kicked back in a hammock. A few times the sonographer thumped on my stomach to get Twin A to move and it was surprising  to see A react. You think they are in their own little world and that what's happening outside the uterus doesn't have an impact on them -- it was amazing to see Twin A jump, like, "Oh, what was that?" For a split second I thought, "Hey, leave my baby alone!" but A very quickly resumed his/her relaxing, kicked-back pose, so I figured it was okay. Funny how that mother's instict kicks in, isn't it?

Here's a close up of Baby A

And here are A's hands and feet in the air

And here is Baby B

And two shots of B's legs (kind of hard to see)

We discussed with the doctor (who we like very much) the bleeding episode and he said that one of the placentas is right on top of my cervix, so he isn't surprised. He said no walking for exercise, no intercourse, nothing strenuous. In addition to the ultrasound, they did a finger prick and ran some blood tests. We had a bit of a scare on Thursday when a genetic counselor called to say that Twin A's results came back indicating a slightly higher risk of Down Syndrome. We met in person with the genetic counselor on Friday morning to fully understand this result. The nuchal translucency measurment, which they take on the back of the neck, helps indicate whether there might be problems such as Down's or a heart defect. Twin B's NT was 1.9 mm and Twin A's was 2.1 mm. Amzaing that a two-tenths of a millimeter difference makes that much of a difference in the risk assessment. Twin B's risk of Down Syndrome was reduced to 1 in 430. Twin A's was only reduced to 1 in 281 and they want it to be 1 in 308 or less. That said, a risk of 1 in 281 is still in the normal range and the genetic counselor said she isn't particularly concerned about this, especially since we did the comprehensive chromosone screening on our embryos with CCRM and everything came back normal. She said there are like 10 additional markers they will look for at our next ultrasound (in 4 weeks) and if there are additional concerns then, we can discuss the possibility of doing amniocentisis.

In addition to the perinatal appointment on Tuesday, we had an OB appointment on Friday (yesterday). I thought we'd get another look at them but was disappointed and confused to learn that all of my ultrasounds here on out will be at the perinatologist's office across the street because the OB's machine can't capture what's needed now. (I began to wonder, why do we need you people? And I actually said something to that effect to the genetic counselor, who works for the perinatalogy office, and she said, "Well, they have to deliver the babies." Aha! So we do need the OB!! But I'm thinking, after three years of appointments in fertility clinics, one of which has a waterfall in the entrance... that would be CCRM.... I'm thinking, "What kind of 21st century obstetrician's office doesn't have a decent ultrasound machine??" Anyway, the OB appointment was almost a non-event. They did a urine sample, had me stand on the scale, got out the fetal heart monitor and listened to both heartbeats, and then we talked with the doctor for a few minutes. We cleared our vacation dates with him, I updated him on my plans at work to cut back hours after Labor Day, we discussed the bleeding episode (I'm still spotting some brown gunk but no one seems concerned), and we discussed the results from Tuesday, which he had just received, which he also was unconcerned about. I don't mean to sound critical of this doctor. He seems great and comes very highly recommended. It's just odd to put my care in the hands of someone who refers patients out of his for all ultrasounds. I don't get that. But maybe I've been in IF world for too long and that's the way it is. I know for "normal" pregnancies, women don't get many ultrasounds, anyway, so maybe that's it. It's still odd after having so, so many scans (I should have counted). I didn't know the procedure was so specialized!

Okay, noon is going to be here before I know it and I'm still sitting on my bed in my pajamas. I have got to get up and get away from the computer. I may go to a few consignment shops that sell maternity clothes today because I'm staring to "spread."

Oh, also! We're going to tell people now that we made it through our two doctor's appointments this week. Tomorrow should be interesting at church and next week, I can't wait to tell some of my colleagues at work. Have a good weekend, everyone!