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No, he doesn’t actually look like me.

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I rarely think about the boys being the result of gamete donation. I mean, it’s always in the back of my mind, kind of like the never-ending piles of laundry are always on my mind, but not in any real way. And I’ve even started talking with people outside of my immediate friend group about their unique conception history. Progress! After all, they say when you can tell your story without tears you have healed.

And then out of left field – BAM!!!

My sister is pregnant again, naturally and unexpected. I’m thrilled for her, in the way you can only be thrilled for your sister. And I am unbelievably jealous of her, in the way you can only be jealous of your sister. She has the same diagnosis as me and she’s the same age I was when I started infertility treatments. And she’s pregnant. AGAIN.

I would never wish what I went through on anyone, especially my baby sister. But COME ON LIFE! Really? *sigh*

And then, she randomly sends me a picture of her at 16 months next to a picture of her 16 month old (naturally conceived) bio baby so that I can compare how much they look alike. I burst in to tears right there waiting for the bus at the park and ride. Couldn’t even try to hide it. Just sudden, huge, overwhelming sobs. (And I couldn’t go hide in my car and take a later bus. I had to stand there, sobbing, waiting for the last bus of the morning. I’m sure everyone at the bus stop thinks I’m completely nuts). Because I can’t do that. I can’t compare myself with my boys. There’s no point.

It’s such a natural human instinct to look for ourselves in our children. To search for the continuity of our genes through time. Maybe it’s hubris or vanity. But to me, the one who can’t ever see myself reflected in my child’s eyes, it seems like looking for yourself in the face of god. To see yourself in this tiny perfect being – to be privy to the melding of you and your mate – it seems like a miracle. And it’s those little things that are hard.

The big things are easy. I love my little guys. All day long, every day, strong and true. Unconditionally. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I am proud of my boys and happy and grateful to be their mama. But every time a stranger in the grocery store says “Oh how sweet, this one looks just like you! And this one must look like his daddy”, I think, “The joke’s on you lady! He doesn’t actually look like me at all” and then I have to smile and walk away quickly before the sense of loss brings tears to my eyes.

I think these feelings will start to fade too, eventually. And maybe one day that spot in my heart won’t be so sore. Time doesn’t heal all wounds. Some things can only be carried, but as my strength grows the burden feels less heavy. And in the meantime I will bask in the miracles that are my children, and thank the powers that be that I was strong enough and brave enough to do what was needed to bring them into this world.

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Sorry for the radio silence

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Hello all! Sorry it’s been so long. Life keeps happening at warp speed. Here’s a quick breakdown of what’s happening with us before I start going on about my little dudes.

We moved across the country. Like, just picked up and moved. My husband got fired the first week of July and we moved before Aug. My post-doc was ending and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do after that and I have been itching to get closer to family. My mama could not BE more thrilled. After we moved I played stay-at-home-mom for 4 months. I’m not very good at that, as it turns out. Hats off to all you SAHM’s because it’s hard as hard can be. I was simultaneously overwhelmed and bored to death. I made A LOT of apple pies.

Sooooo…I got a job! It happened to come along at just the right time. It’s with a non-profit that I’ve worked with for years and years and, while it’s not research, it’s in my field, I’m very good at it, it’s important work, it pays reasonably well and it has amazing benefits! Of course, I have an hour and half commute each way but you can’t have it all right? Now, on to my boys…

They are spectacular. First of all, they’re huge. They’re 99% and 97% for height and weight – they both wear 2T at 18 months and are about the size of the average 3 year old. Z started walking at 9 months and lazy Ro was content to sit on his fat bottom and watch the action until 10.5 months. Now, at almost 19 months they’re climbing, running, wrestling, and laughing. They both use sign language and they both are talking, mostly about poop. Z has always been fastidious about his diaper, so now when he soils it he comes to me, holds up his shirt and says “Poop, mama. Poop.” And if I don’t immediately spring to my feet he’ll go and get a diaper, lay it in my lap and then lean in close and look in my eyes and say “MAMA. POOP.” R is constantly chatting about ducks and dinosaurs and singing Old MacDonald (“e, i, e, i , mooooooo”). They have fights over who gets to sit in my lap – they both push each other and say “No! MY MAMA!”. My heart melts. Ro has a megawatt smile and knows how to use it, and Z is a sweet and gentle soul.

I have days where I cry that they’re not “mine”, but truthfully they couldn’t be more mine. I have days where the pain and process it took to get to where we are overwhelms me with both fear and gratitude-we were so close to giving up. I have days where I wish with all of my heart that I never have to tell them how they were conceived. But I have more days, many many many more days where I’m proud of their origins. I’m proud of the struggle. I’m proud that one day they will have definitive concrete proof of how much we wanted them and how much they were loved, before they were even conceived. I FOUGHT for them. And I’m proud of who they are. I wouldn’t trade them for bio babies EVER. THEY are my babies. And I am their mama.

I love Ro with all of my heart, but Z is mine. He was Baby B, snuggled up under my ribcage, right beside my heart. His hair is exactly the color of mine. His personality is me to a T. Last week, when my mom and aunt were visiting I heard them laughing downstairs while I was folding clothes. Turns out Z had taken the ribbon on my moms blouse and was using it to tickle his ear, which was what I used to do, in exactly that same way. I know about epigenetics, and I believe all of that stuff (mostly) but it is a balm to me to see him be like me in so many ways. I can’t look at them and try and find my nose, or my fingernails, or my toes, but I still see myself in them, and in Z in particular.

Don’t get me wrong, I love R. He’s a troublemaker, and a performer and a silly silly monkey! R loves everyone. He’ll go to everyone with a smile and hug. Everyone adores him. He has a modeling contract and has been relatively successful (less so now that I can’t take him to auditions obviously). People stop us in public to comment on what a beautiful child he is. Z is quiet. He hangs back until he’s sure of what’s going on. And then, when he’s comfortable, he’s a beam of sunshine. He took apart the coffee table when he was 11 months old. He has taken apart the baby gate once or twice and now when he starts to do I tell him “No Z-bone”, and he’ll get a big grin and then pretend to do it. I’ll start to stand up and he’ll laugh and say “No, Z-bone. Mama say no”. But he’ll stop, and then he’ll get a book and come crawl in my lap. He has his baby doll that he loves (below), and his kitty that he sleeps with. Ro has a blankie that goes everywhere with him, and he’s obsessed with shoes or “sues” and must put on all pairs within in sight. Which means his shoes, my shoes and then daddy’s shoes. All at once.

So I have the engineer and the actor, the thinker and the lover. My little boys. I have it all.

 

 

 

THIS

I have no idea who to credit this to as it came from the vast internet unknown. But -THIS.

There are women that become mothers without effort, without thought, without patience or loss and though they are good mothers and love their children, I know that I will be better.

I will be better not because of genetics, or money or that I have read more books,… 
but because I have struggled and toiled for this child.

I have longed and waited. I have cried and prayed.

I have endured and planned over and over again.

Like most things in life, the people who truly have appreciation are those who have struggled to attain their dreams.

I will notice everything about my child.

I will take time to watch my child sleep, explore and discover. I will marvel at this miracle every day for the rest of my life.

I will be happy when I wake in the middle of the night to the sound of my child, knowing that I can comfort, hold and feed him and that I am not waking to take another temperature, pop another pill, take another shot or cry tears of a broken dream. My dream will be crying for me.

I count myself lucky in this sense; that God has given me this insight, this special vision with which I will look upon my child that my friends will not see.

Whether I parent a child I actually give birth to or a child that God leads me to, I will not be careless with my love.

I will be a better mother for all that I have endured. I am a better wife, a better aunt, a better daughter, neighbor, friend and sister because I have known pain.

I know disillusionment as I have been betrayed by my own body, I have been tried by fire and hell many never face, yet given time, I stood tall.

I have prevailed.

I have succeeded.

I have won.

So now, when others hurt around me, I do not run from their pain in order to save myself discomfort. I see it, mourn it, and join them in theirs.

I listen.

And even though I cannot make it better, I can make it less lonely. I have learned the immerse power of another hand holding tight to mine, of other eyes that moisten as they learn to accept the harsh truth and when life is beyond hard. I have learned a compassion that only comes with walking in those shoes.

I have learned to appreciate life.

Yes I will be a wonderful mother.

Update

I know it’s been a million years since I’ve written – I’m so sorry! I’ve been so busy! This twins thing is nuts.

Let me begin by saying that they are more spectacular than I ever could have imagined. They are huge and healthy and beautiful. (There’s so much I want to say I can’t get my thoughts in order). They are wonderful. They are such a gift.

I still think of the donor every day. It still hurts. There are some days when I cry sad and bitter tears because they aren’t “mine”. I didn’t contribute (in the usual way) to the absolute miracle and wonder that are my boys. That being said, I also recognize on a deeper level that they would not exist without me. Some days I feel like the force of my will brought them into existence, and in some ways I guess it did.

I have struggled with many things these last few months – motherhood, lack of sleep, lack of confidence, breastfeeding, loneliness, fear…. In particular breastfeeding has been a struggle. Both babies were tongue-tied and we had to supplement from the start. R latches now and I’ve resigned myself to pumping for Z but I have struggled with disproportionate feelings of inadequacy due to my breastfeeding struggles. A few weeks ago I faced the fact that I was so set on breastfeeding because I subconsciously felt like it would make me more of a mother to them. I have realized that I have a hard time asking for help, or showing weakness or really compromising any of my motherhood “ideals” because I feel the need to prove (to them? myself? the world?) that I really and truly am their mother. I’m working through it, but it was a big realization for me. A hard fact to face.

That being said, I think I’m actually doing a pretty good at this mother thing. They are big and healthy – both are 26.5 inches long and they weigh 17 lbs 1 oz and 16 lbs 4 oz at 4 months. Z can roll over in both directions and has 2 teeth. R talks to everyone and lights up the room with his big gummy smile. He can stand up tall if you hold his fat little fingers. They babble to each and giggle with delight when the cats walk by. R will belly laugh if someone says “Mongolian BBQ” – don’t ask me why. Z is a champion napper but won’t sleep at night. R thinks naps are for amateurs but sleeps the whole night through.

They are amazing, and I can’t believe they’re mine.






 

 

They’re here!!

R and Z

July 27, 2014 

7 lb 6 oz and 7 lbs 1 oz and both 21 inches long

I made it to 1 day short of 38 weeks. I’ll tell the full story later, but in brief I had an emergency C-section followed by massive postpartum hemorrhaging. Despite the drama the babies were perfect, no NICU needed. Both had Apgars of 9.9. I’m finally out of the hospital and we’re all home and doing well. I’m still very weak from blood loss despite many transfusions and breastfeeding is challenging (Z is tongue-tied and can’t latch) but we are thrilled and adjusting to being home. They are such weird, crazy little dudes!

Names?

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We have had a hard time agreeing on names. My husbands favorites are Fred and George (no, he’s hasn’t read Harry Potter) and I like Ezra and Micah. I hate his choices and he hates mine. Family names are out (his are Fred and George) and he doesn’t like mine (James and Caleb). We’ve found a handful of names that we’re both ok with but we don’t really want to name them until we’ve seen them. Of course, we know which ones we prefer and secretly call them those names. So, in our heads we’ve been calling them Zach and Rowan. Other possibilities are Max and Sam (or any combo of the 4). So today I was FB chatting with a friend who knows about my infertility issues and she out of the blue said “You’re naming one of the babies Samuel, right?” I told her I didn’t know for sure but why did she ask? She reminded me of the Biblical story of Hannah and Samuel. Now, I’m not religious at all, but my family is all southern Baptist and I grew up going to church twice a week so I’m very familiar with scripture. So, for those of you who are rusty on your old testament, here is an excerpt from About.com…

Hannah is one of the most poignant characters in the Old Testament. Like several other women in the Bible, she was barren. People in ancient Israel believed that a large family was a blessing from God. Infertility, therefore, was a source of humiliation and shame. To make matters worse, her husband’s other wife not only bore children but taunted Hannah mercilessly.

Once, at the house of the Lord in Shiloh, Hannah was praying so intently that her lips moved silently with the words she spoke to God in her heart. Eli the priest saw her and accused her of being drunk. She answered that she was praying, pouring out her soul to the Lord. Touched by her pain,

Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” (1 Samuel1:17, NIV)

After Hannah and her husband Elkanah returned from Shiloh to their home at Ramah, they slept together. Scripture says, “…and the Lord remembered her.” (1 Samuel 1:19, NIV). She became pregnant, had a son, and named him Samuel, which means “God hears.”

To me, this story is very poignant. I prefer the name Rowan, but I don’t see how I could not name one of the boys Sam now. What do you guys think?

*They’re middle names are Kyllo (DH’s mothers maiden name) and Dean (the name my father goes by).

Chubby babies!

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Just got our wellness check. Each baby weighs 6 lbs 3 oz (!) and looks healthy – good heart rates and both are practicing breathing which is a good sign for lung development. Both are still breech, chilling with their heads together under my right ribcage and their butts in my pelvis. I’m 48″ around, no sign of gestational diabetes and my blood pressure is 112/68, but that will be increasing dramatically if these fat, wiggly babies don’t vacate sometime in the near future. 6 days til 36 weeks. 6 days til 36 weeks. 6 days til 36 weeks….(and at that point we’ve probably avoided the NICU). Grow babies grow!! And then come out and meet your family. We’re ready for you!!

35 weeks tomorrow

Things have been moving right along, and by moving right along I mean time is dragging so slowly I can’t even believe it. After so many years of trying and dreaming and wishing and hoping to be pregnant I swore I would never complain. I would enjoy every moment and revel in every change. Well….I’m trying. I’m trying really hard. But holy shit, this is the most physically demanding thing I’ve ever done. I hurt. All over. The only part of me that doesn’t hurt are my upper arms and my ears. Seriously. My abdominal muscles have torn in 2 places, and that’s where the babies love to rest their little heads. The heartburn is so bad that I vomit every few hours, even when sitting straight up (I am maxed out on Zantac, Tums, Papaya Extract and milk) and I refuse to eat anything that has even the slightest acid content. Both babies are breech now (more on that in a minute) which means I have 2 heads pushing on my diaphragm and ribs (so I can neither breath nor bend) and 4 little feet pummeling my plumbing. I can’t sleep for more than 2 hours at a time (vomiting or peeing, take your pick) and I’m having painful contractions 3-4 times an hour for the last 2 weeks. I know, I know, it’s worth it. It’s what I wanted. There are thousands of women who would do anything to be in my place. Trust me – I KNOW. But damn. 

In other news, we were in a car accident last week. It was minor (for us) – 5 car pile up on the freeway where some lady was texting and didn’t see that traffic had stopped and never touched her breaks. She slammed into the guy in front of her who hit the guy in front of him yada yada. We were the last car hit, first in line if you know what I mean. 3 of the 5 cars were totaled. We had almost no damage. My husband saw it coming, told us to brace, honked at the guy in front of him (who moved up about 10 ft) and then he released the brake at the moment of impact, thus helping to dissipate the energy of collision. We were all fine – the airbags didn’t even deploy. BUT, the guy behind us was hooked on our trailer hitch, and we were in the middle of the freeway where traffic was zooming by at 75 mph on both sides of us. S called 911, reported the accident, told him “We can’t move because the guy behind us is stuck, traffic is zooming by and my wife is 8 1/2 months pregnant. I’m afraid we’re going to get hit again. Can you send someone quick?” Well, within 4 minutes there were firetrucks and ambulances and police cars and the whole 3 ring circus. The paramedics come running to our truck at a full sprint to take my vitals and try and put me in the ambulance to go to the hospital. I’m insisting I’m fine and don’t want to go. I made the mistake of telling them “I feel fine and I can feel both babies moving.” BOTH BABIES!???? I thought their heads would pop off. When I still refused to go to the hospital they insisted I call my OB, who also insisted I go to the hospital. *sigh* I still refused to go in the ambulance so my husband and a bunch of police officers and firemen and paramedics lifted the other guys car off of our hitch so we could go. They were very accommodating about paperwork and whatnot and told us they would come to the house the next day.

So, off we go to the hospital where I’m admitted and monitored for 5 hours. Blood work, ultrasound, monitors for me and for both babies. As it turns out both babies are breech and I’m having a crapload of contractions. My blood pressure and blood work are great and both babies are breathing beautifully. The accident occurred at 4:35 PM and we didn’t get home until after 11. Want to talk about a tired, hungry, cranky pregnant lady!!! Anyway, all’s well the ends well, I guess.

 

I am legion

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No offense intended to anyone with religious leanings, but now that my body very clearly contains 3 separate people with their own personalities, thoughts (and especially) sleep schedules the title just seems to fit.

I’ve been strangely “unbusy”. I find that I can lay for hours on the couch in a semi-awake daze – something my overactive brain has never once in my entire life allowed me to do. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of things that need doing, I just have ZERO drive or motivation to do any of them. My baby brain is bad. I didn’t do anything – work, manuscript writing, housework – last week. I just….couldn’t. I would open a document to start working, have a contraction, lay down and then go to sleep. Wake up, eat, watch soccer, remember I was supposed to be working and lay down again. This is totally unlike me.

I’ve physically gotten to the point where I make other people visibly uncomfortable. Even the saleslady at Motherhood told me to go home and stay home when I went in to get measured for nursing bras. So, the only time I’ve really been out the house for the last week or two has been to go to child birthing classes. I went to a breastfeeding class and a birthing center tour at the hospital where I’ll deliver, and the last 2 Sat.’s we went to birthing classes – one at the hospital and one at a local birthing center. BTW, I highly recommend taking those kinds of classes. Even my husband agreed that they were useful and says he feels much more confident now. At the “hippie-dippie” natural birthing class (as my husband called it) I just jumped right in during introductions and told them that I was pregnant with fraternal twins as a result of egg donation. The teacher and one of the other ladies then both said they had (or were having) children as a result of IVF. During the break several couples came up to us and asked very good and thoughtful questions about how we arrived at that decision and what the process was like. And, of course, everyone had a story about a sister/friend/aunt/cousin who was infertile and how hard their struggle was. Granted, this was by its very nature a supportive environment, but I was quite pleased that my first foray into “telling strangers” went so well.

Anyway, the babies are really big and I am super uncomfortable. They’re also very active which is great, but they’ve actually split my abdominal muscles in 3 places from all of their squirming, which isn’t so great. The nursery is finished (I think) and we have just about everything ready to go. My bags are packed for the hospital. My birth plan is ready. Now all we have to do it hope and pray that Baby A will turn head down so that I can at least TRY to implement my birth plan. I really want to try and do this “pioneer style” – no meds at all, completely naturally if possible. I know people think I’m crazy, and it may end up (for any number of reasons) that this won’t happen, but I feel like the whole conception process, as grateful as I am for it, was so medically orchestrated and outside of me that I want this to be just me. Me and my husband and our babies. I want to feel it all. Maybe I’m looking for some extra legitimacy – some additional “I carried you and birthed you and I am your mother” fodder for down the road, I don’t know. I just feel strongly that I at least want to try. I want to prove to myself that my body isn’t broken. I felt for so long like I was defective, like less of a woman, because I couldn’t get pregnant. Now that I’ve watched my body grow these babies I want to, once and for all, wipe away those feelings of defectiveness and feel powerful. I want to prove to myself (and to my boys and my husband) that just because I couldn’t do one little thing (like produce a viable egg) doesn’t mean I am any less of a mother or a woman. Wow. Writing that down it becomes clear to me that the only person I need to prove that to is myself. Huh.

Here’s the latest bump picture – my mom says I look like a mongrel dog with the big belly and the protruding ribs (not as visible in this picture as in real life). hahaha! I swear, I’m eating constantly, but these little fellas are just sucking it out of me. I’ve currently gained just shy of 50 lbs, so I’m on track for weight gain, I’m just ALL BABIES.

 

Update on all the things

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First, thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. I appreciate your kind words. It’s very heartening to know that there are people out there going through the same (or similar) issues – even though I wish none of us had to deal with this stuff. Anyway, thanks!

Now for an update on the babies! We had a growth scan on Tues which was right at 30 weeks. Baby A is measuring 31 weeks 5 days and is 3 lbs 9 oz. Baby B is measuring 30 weeks 6 days and is 3 lbs. 4 oz. They have always been within an oz of each other so I was concerned about the difference but the midwife said it was great for them to be measuring this close at this stage. Heart rates look good. Both are still transverse but I’m hoping hard for Baby A to turn so I can try to give birth “pioneer style” as my husband would say. The midwife thinks I’ll make it to 36 weeks if I’m careful.

I am measuring 49 weeks *gulp*  and it’s starting to get really hard. I have severe carpal tunnel in both hands from the swelling, I’ve gained 43 lbs (which is more than 1/3 of my previous body weight) and I have an “irritable uterus”. Apparently, when you shove a bunch of big babies into your uterus it gets kinda pissed off, which seems totally reasonable to me. But, the result is that I have a combination of almost constant Braxton-Hicks (which started at 5.5 months), “rock hard uterine contractions” (not the clinic term – it’s when the contraction kind of freezes and the uterus stays hard and tight for several hours), and “real” but disorganized contractions. The kind that wrap around and hurt, a lot. The doctor is monitoring me closely and I’m trying hard to take it easy but the things that make the contractions worse are completely ridiculous. For instance, dehydration – even slight dehydration – really gets them going. As does a full bladder. As does the act of urinating. Someone please tell me how I’m supposed to manage those 3 things? In Phoenix? In the summer? Gah!

But, the crazy thing is that I can now (mostly) identify the baby parts that I see poking out of my belly. Tiny fists, feet, forearms, heads….it’s a total trip. Space is getting pretty limited so the hard kicks are slowing down and the boys are mostly just wiggling and poking now.

And…..a quick update on the home front situation. My husbands ex-wife is finally in jail. For those of you just tuning in – my husbands ex is crazy nuts. I know, I know, that makes me sound like a shallow, jealous new wife, but I am oh-so-serious. She is in jail for trying to burn her father’s house down WITH HIM INSIDE. At 9:30 AM on a Tues, like you do. She was drunk, on cocaine and Xanax and 11 weeks pregnant (and knew she was pregnant). Also, she’s 41. So, felony malicious arson of an inhabited structure, arson of property (for his truck), conspiracy to commit arson (she was with some guy she met at Joe’s Crab Shack the night before), use of an accelerant, and there may be an attempted murder charge thrown in for shits and giggles. And now is NOT the time to be on trial for arson in San Diego County! And only she could manage to get arrested in front of her kid from 500 miles away. They were Facetiming when the police arrested her. The US Marshal called my husband and said “You might want to talk to your kid. She was on the screen when we arrested her mom.” Of course, he was out-of-town so the “your mom got arrested and is in jail” conversation fell to me.

Anyway, H-bomb (my pet name for crazy lady) had not exercised her visitation rights, well, ever, so A hadn’t seen her since Thanksgiving (court ordered supervised visitation for 4 hours every other weekend). However, we still had to pay child support to facilitate her travel to see her daughter for visitation.  ???  But, FINALLY upon her arrest the judge cancelled child support and H-bomb will have to pay back the  support for the previous 6 months (which was part of the original order).

Strangely, A seems fine with it all. I explained (in very general terms) what her mother had done (Mommy broke the grown up rules, which are called laws, and now she has to face the consequences, which means she has to live in jail now. We don’t know for how long yet, etc). She asked a few questions, thought about it a bit, asked a few more questions and then she was good. I explained that she probably wouldn’t ever live with her mom again, to which she replied “That’s ok, I don’t want to live with her. It’s safer here. I just want to be able to talk to her sometimes”. I asked her how she felt and she said “Disappointed. Why can’t she get it together? Why does she always have to do bad things?”. We took her to the child psychologist who said she seems fine and happy and well-adjusted, and she won the “Happiest” award for 3rd grade at her school. So, we’re doing what we can. If anyone has any experience with kind of thing let me know, because we’re just muddling through as best we can!

30 weeks, choices

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Ever since I got pregnant (4th IVF, using donor eggs for those of you just joining the convo) I’ve been struggling with what to do with this blog. Do I keep it? Start a different blog? Abandon it altogether?

Because I know how hard it is to see someone be successful in this process – even though you’re completely happy for them it’s terribly difficult. I know how awful it is to keep failing and watch everyone else succeed. It is really, really hard – demoralizing even. You go from being comrades, survivors, confidants to feeling (for me at least) on the outside, once again. Sonograms, doctor visits, bump pictures – they hurt. Believe me, I know. So if you have to unfollow me at this point I absolutely understand, and I don’t take it personally.

It’s just that the more I think about why I started this blog in the first place the more I feel that I need to continue my story here, because my story isn’t over, not by a long shot! The reality is that I am pregnant with 2 little boys as the result of egg donation. I’m ok with that. My husband is ok with that. My family, his family, our close friends – all “A-OK”. It’s the rest of the world I’m worried about. And some days it’s still hard. As I get bigger I get more and more questions about what we think they’ll look like, who we think they’ll take after, etc. And that’s only going to get worse after they’re born. I’m getting better at fielding the questions, but every so often I get really, really sad that I don’t have a genetic link with these babies (I know about epigenetics – I’m talking about a classic genetic link). I’m learning that, as happy as I am to have these little guys and as much as I already love them, there will always be an ache, a sore spot. And that’s ok. That doesn’t make me a bad person, or a bad mother. It makes me human. I didn’t get my fairy tale. What I did get was life – real, visceral, in-your-face reality. And I earned these babies with blood, sweat and tears – literally. And I think that’s an important story to tell. And I know that I, my sons, my whole family, will struggle with this for years to come. We will be honest with the boys about their conception, but that’s a story that has to be told and retold, made and remade for years and years. And it’s a complicated, emotional and difficult story for everyone involved. It’s going to be hard.

Certainly, folks have navigated these waters before and there are far more resources than there used to be, but it’s hardly commonplace. When I was researching donor eggs I had a hard time finding anything personal, most information was from clinics. And I didn’t just want to know the logistics – how to choose a donor, what meds to take, cost – I wanted to know how it all turned out. Did the donor conceived kids turn out ok? Did they feel like a family? Did the parents love them like their own? Did the parents dwell all the time on the differences between them and their children? Did they spend time looking for the donor in each mannerism? Or were these kids just kids like any other kids? And on and on and on….  So, I’m going to keep this blog so that anyone who is considering the same path I have taken can know how it all turned out – start to finish.

And with that, here is the obligatory bump picture – 2 days shy of 30 weeks pregnant with fraternal twin boys.

 

#YesAllWomen, Academic Version

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I wanted to post this on my Facebook page, but I’m afraid of the backlash to my personal and professional life (which is sad in itself, that I should be afraid of the repercussions of speaking the truth).

By the time I was 13 I knew to hang my head and walk quickly past groups of men (both high school boys and full grown men). By high school my friends and I had, much like other prey animals, learned the value of safety in numbers. By college, that knowledge had evolved into a highly intricate system of checks and balances where Girl A was responsible for Girl B who watched Girl C who watched Girl A. No one was ever out of sight for more than  a few minutes. Sadly, this system didn’t always keep everyone safe. Many of us were sexually assaulted, 2 were raped. Every single one of us was harassed. I thought after college this would end, but it just changed. It became more subtle, more insidious. I learned to walk with my head up and look men in the eye, hoping that I would seem strong and capable, less like prey. That didn’t always work. As a 22 year old waitress in Hollywood I was objectified, harassed, groped and stalked (I had to get a restraining order against a patron who would leave messages at the restaurant saying “that if he couldn’t have me no one would”).  When I started graduate school I assumed I had left that type of person, and that type of behavior, behind. After all, academia is a place where intelligence, thoughts, ideas, and creativity are what’s important – far my important then what you look like, what you wear and what you have between your legs. Wrong again.

My objective here is not to denigrate the academic community, but to point out that misogyny and harassment (and the accompanying fear and frustration) is everywhere. #YesAllWomen isn’t just about catcalling on the street or getting groped on the subway or in a bar, although that has happened to every single woman I know. It’s not just about crossing the street “just in case” when you see a man coming towards you, or about carrying your keys between your knuckles (which I always do, without a second thought). And it doesn’t just involve low-class, uneducated rednecks or drunk college boys. Here are just 2 examples I’d like to share.

My second year as a masters student I was asked at a conference to meet and discuss my research with a well-known and well-respected scientist in my field (this is common practice at these conferences). We met at the agreed upon time and place, where he proceeded to become increasingly physically aggressive despite my clear and repeated declaratives that I wanted him to stop, that I was here to discuss research, that I wasn’t interested. He persisted, becoming more and more angry. I left quickly, scared and annoyed. When I told a fellow (male) graduate student what happened his response was “Well, you didn’t actually think HE would be interested in YOUR research did you? That’s kind of on you. You should have known better”

My first year as a PhD student I was introduced by a friend to a very senior male scientist from another university. “Dr. Fancy professor this is W, she’s a new PhD student of Dr. so and so”. He frankly looked me up and down and said “I could have guessed that by the bra size,” and then high-fived his friends, also male, tenured faculty. Much laughing ensued, and I walked away, humiliated and furious.

These are not isolated incidents-not by a long shot. I, and other female grad students, could regale you for hours with stories of sexism, intimidation, and sexual harassment (both subtle and blatant) that we have experienced in “the ivory tower”. These people were well-respected, well-educated men. And in each case, the inaction (or reaction) of the “bystanders” was as hurtful as the action of the perpetrator. Certainly, #NotAllMen are like this. But Not One Man ever stepped forward to help. Not One Man ever called them out on their sexist and harassing behavior. And that is almost as bad.

***On a side note, it’s has been interesting and shocking to be pregnant. I didn’t realize how inured I was to inappropriate comments, blatant up-and-down looks and small “innocent” inappropriate brushing and touching in crowded places. Now that I’m hugely pregnant all of that has stopped. It’s very restful. And it frightens me that I was so used to it that I didn’t notice it until it was gone.

 

 

I’m back!!

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Sorry for the lengthy absence – I’ve been busy! But, I have lots of news.

1) I finished my Ph.D!! It has been a race to the finish and some of the worst weeks of my life but it’s done! Hurray!!

2) And now for the news you’ve all been waiting for…..we did a gender reveal party at the end of March. No one knew the genders except my friend D. She  baked 100 cupcakes (half chocolate with white icing for Baby B and half white with chocolate icing for Baby A) and then she filled each one with frosting in either pink or blue. We had a big party with all of our friends (my whole family Facetimed in) and then we all bit into A and then into B. Drum roll please…….

2 BABY BOYS!!!!!!

Gender reveal cupcakes - 2 boys!!

Gender reveal cupcakes – 2 boys!!

 

And they are growing like crazy! They are both measuring 2 weeks ahead and are only ounces apart. I’m 25 weeks tomorrow and I’m measuring at almost 38 weeks. I’ve gained 40 lbs and it’s almost all in my belly. I’m huge! It’s nuts!! I still have moments when I can’t believe I’m pregnant. The midwife says I’m carrying “high and tight”. The boys are kicking hard enough now that you can see it from the outside, and my step-daughter walks around with her hands always on my stomach, squealing when she feels her brothers. It’s so joyful, and exhausting. After all this time waiting for babies and wishing for babies I am overcome. Here’s some baby faces for you.

22 weeks

22 weeks

I think about the donor a few times a week, mostly when people ask me if I think they’ll have red hair. I still have some disappointment that these boys aren’t genetically related to me – I think that will always be there – but they are my babies through and through.

In somewhat unrelated news my husband (who has barely even heard of Harry Potter) has decided he wants to name them Fred and George. Really? Potentially red-haired boy twins named Fred and George? I keep trying to explain why this is unacceptable but he is unfazed. For my part, I want to name them Ezra and Micah, but S says they’d turn out to be dirty hippies! Jokes on you big guy-you married a dirty hippie! So,no name resolution yet.

AND IN OTHER NEWS….MY SISTER IS PREGNANT!!! You know, the sister who offered to donate her eggs and was told (5 months before her wedding no less) that she also had DOR and was unlikely to ever conceive. Yeah, her. NATURALLY. They started trying and 8 months later – 2 pink lines. I couldn’t be more thrilled. Truly. Not one bit of jealousy or animosity. I wouldn’t wish this process on anyone, especially not my baby sister. And my mother – I think her head is going to explode. She went from being told she was unlikely to ever have any grandchildren to expecting 3 grandbabies within 4 months of each other. My dad is planning to retire since, he says, mom  isn’t ever going to be at home again.

Anyway, just wanted to give a brief update. Now that I’m not writing/revising 18 hours a day I’ll have more time for updates – baby showers and nursery things are coming soon. In the meantime I’ll leave you with some bump pictures…

17 weeks

17 weeks

20 weeks

20 weeks

21 weeks

21 weeks

22 weeks

22 weeks

23.5 weeks

23.5 weeks

This is all about babies

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I have been remiss in posting baby and bump pictures (mainly because of a malfunctioning phone) but I’m going to remedy that now! Also, we got the results of our NT scan back from the perinatologist and she said that they couldn’t be better. The babies are exactly on track and have less than a 1 in 10,000 chance of Down’s syndrome, Trisomy-13 or Trisomy-18.

5.5 weeks

5.5 weeks

8.5 weeks

8.5 weeks

10.5 weeks

10.5 weeks

11 weeks

11 weeks

13.5 weeks

13.5 weeks

13.5 weeks

13.5 weeks

Baby A

Baby A at 12 weeks 1 day

Baby B

Baby B at 12 weeks 1 day

Our Facebook announcement

Our Facebook announcement

14 weeks
14 weeks

 

This has nothing to do with babies

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I need to vent.

I am at my wits end. Here are the cliff notes – I am 3 months pregnant with DE conceived twins, trying to finish my Ph.D (I defend in April), nursing my 12 year old dog who has cancer and raising my 8 year old step-daughter by myself. Oh yes, and don’t forget the financial difficulties, because IVF and custody lawyers aren’t cheap.

I’ve talked about my step-daughter before, and her mother. As a quick recap, I’ve known A since she was 4, and she’s almost 9 now. Her father and I married when she was 6 and we’ve had her weekends, holidays and most of the summer ever since then. Her mother has been mentally declining for the last several years which culminated in us being given emergency custody and then full-custody last November. Since then her mother has checked herself into a mental hospital and is now living in a step-house sober-living facility. There will shortly be a warrant issued for her arrest, because in Dec she tried to burn down her fathers home (A’s grandfather) with him inside. She did several hundred thousand dollars worth of damage.

First, I knew when I married my husband that he had a child. I thought that was a bonus – instant family. Oh, the naiveté! I was fully committed to our schedule of weekends, holidays and summers, and to being a step-mother. When it became clear that her mother was unfit and dangerous I agreed that we should try to get full custody. Not because that was what I wanted, but because I thought that was what was best for the child. And let me be clear, after the first custody hearing in Sept. I admitted to my husband that I believed the best possible outcome would be that the unfit mother would see the error of her ways and correct her behavior. I hoped A would continue to stay with her but be in a better and safer situation. I admitted that I had secretly hoped we wouldn’t get custody. He agreed with me. We didn’t get custody (turns out it was because we didn’t file a “move away” form).

When we found out in Nov about the craziness (evictions, moving in with men her mother meet days before, not attending school, drunk driving, drug overdoses, etc) I absolutely agreed we needed to get her out of the situation. I was relieved when the judge gave us custody. I care about A, she’s a good kid and I want her to be safe and happy.

But, when I agreed to full custody what I was agreeing to was 75% time. The arrangement we used to have, only reversed. We would have her during the week and her mother would have her weekends, holidays and summers. We would get a break. I would have time for myself, and time with my husband. But her mother has been declared an unfit parent, and was awarded 4 hours of supervised visitation every other weekend, which she has not exercised. So we have her all the time – 365 24/7.

AND, my husbands new job (his dream job, the one he got which meant I had to sacrifice MY dream job) requires him to travel. And, it requires him to travel much MUCH more than he stated it would when he took it (I was concerned, so we discussed it). And by travel a lot, what I’m saying is that in the last 3 weeks he’s been home 4 nights. Which means that I’m basically a single parent to A. I did not sign up for this. I am ashamed to say this, but I am angry and resentful of her. All of the tender feelings and easy laughs and happy snuggles are gone. I do my best to not show it (we go to the zoo, get our nails done, I take her to cheerleading and play dates blah blah blah) but I have come to dislike her – or more accurately, I am so frustrated and disillusioned by the situation that it bleeds over into how I feel about her.

She is a good kid, but she is not an easy child. Constant whining, temper tantrums if she doesn’t get her way, acting out. She absolutely can not play by herself and most of the neighborhood kids won’t play with her anymore because she’s so bossy and demanding. She doesn’t exhibit age appropriate behaviors (this has been a struggle for a long time). A lot of my home time is consumed with struggles of trying to get her to use a fork to eat (forget about using a knife), wash and brush her own hair, get herself dressed and undressed, do her homework…all to the constant whine of “My mom always did my homework… My mommy brushes my hair… My mommy used to dress me.” and my personal favorite “My mommy says I don’t have to do anything because I’m a little angel” (Did I mention that she’s almost 9?). I understand that a lot of this is a reaction to her circumstances and the things she’s been through, but a lot of it is just plain old bad parenting. She was never taught to use a fork and knife. She was never expected to dress herself. Mostly, she’s just plain old spoiled rotten. And while I am more than willing to help, what has happened is that I have become the only person who is parenting her because my husband is very little help, even when he is around. He’s afraid to parent her. He doesn’t know HOW to parent her. As soon as she pushed back he gives in. He is still so consumed with guilt over the divorce, her mother, and who knows what that he allows her to walk all over him. We’ve had endless discussions about boundaries and setting rules and how he needs to back me up but ultimately, he doesn’t. To make matters worse I’ve asked him over and over to send A to her grandparents every other weekend (she wants to go and they want her to come) so that I can have a break, so that we can spend some time together but he says “No, I miss her and want to see her.” Of course, he’s usually only around for part of one day, and then I have her for the rest of the time.

It got to the point on Thursday that I called him and told him that if things didn’t change I was going to move back home with my parents after my defense, and finish out my pregnancy there. He reluctantly agreed to send her to his parents next weekend, and for one weekend in March. But 2 weekends away do not a bad situation change. It’s a start, but I’m doubtful. (Have I mentioned that he and I have not had a single night alone since the end of Sept despite multiple unfulfilled promises of babysitters and date nights?)

I recognize that many of these things are the result of the circumstances and aren’t anyone’s fault. And the worst part is that I don’t see any acceptable way out of the situation. Her mother is likely going to prison – for a really long time. So it looks like we (I) have her, 24/7 365, indefinitely. My husband can’t/won’t leave his job, and he has to travel. All the time. Which means soon it’s going to be me, A and 2 infants – alone. All the time. This is not what I want. This is not a situation that I am willing to maintain.

I understand how terrible this all sounds. I understand that it makes me sounds like a bad and selfish person. As my mother told me before I divorced my first husband “Marriage isn’t about love, it’s about commitment. You made your bed, now lie in it.” Maybe I did. I knew he had baggage – an ex and a child. I knew it would be difficult. But I didn’t expect this. I dread going home every day and find any excuse that I can to stay at the office late, or get out of the house (when that’s an option). I lock myself in my closet or in the storage shed just to get a few moments of peace. As soon as my husband gets home from a trip I find any excuse to leave. I know I’m not being as good a parent and role model to her as I used to be, as I could be. To be honest, it is taking everything I have to just exist in the situation right now. The idea that it will go on indefinitely, with no respite, feels untenable and utterly unsustainable. And I don’t see any way out.

Allegory of the Cave

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This post has been marinating my brain for a while. I know what I want to say, but I can’t seem to find the right words so I’m just going to jump right in. I know these thoughts aren’t terribly profound, and you’re not likely to stand up and say “Wow, I’m so enlightened now” but I feel like it’s an important thing to acknowledge.

I think the dark days are mostly over. All of the stressors are still in place, but the overwhelming fear and anxiety and frustration are (mostly) gone. Which is interesting, because I started to immediately feel better after my last post. It seems that the very act of acknowledging and articulating my fears and frustrations drained the “poison” from the wounds. Like I said, not profound – after all this is the reason that talk therapy works, the reason people confess their sins, the reason people pray. But nonetheless I felt a profound sense of relief. And I received overwhelming support. It was like I was chained in Plato’s cave and by recognizing my fears and asking for help you all shined your collective lights into the shadows and helped me to accept and validate that my fears, while real, weren’t nearly as frightening as I imagined.

Isn’t it interesting? I have such profound love and gratitude for a group of people that I don’t even know. I could pass you in the grocery store and we wouldn’t recognize each other. And yet you have been a tremendous source of support to me. I have read your comments over and over again, even when I didn’t have the words to reply. I started this blog on a whim, as a way to document my journey (rather like an electronic diary) and hopefully to help anyone else who found themselves in a similar position. To be honest the fact the people even read this little blog is still shocking to me. And it has turned into a lifeline. There’s a lot of chatter about how social media is taking the  “social” out of society and that may be true. But the interwebs also offer the amazing opportunity to connect with people you would never otherwise know. It has given me the space to be complete honest and uncensored, without fear (well, without much fear) of judgement. It is an invaluable resource. YOU are an invaluable resource. Thank you for sharing my journey. And I am honored to be able to share yours.

Now for an update…

I graduated from the RE last week. We had our last ultrasound at 9 weeks 2 days and Baby A was measuring 24 mm (9w 1 d) and Baby B was measuring 26mm (9w 3d). Both had nice strong heartbeats. Baby A was sleeping but we got to see Baby B wiggling around, which was an immensely satisfying moment for me. My next appointments are on Jan 27 (with the Ob) and Jan 29 (for an ultrasound and to test for Down’s).

I’ve actually started telling people. It’s earlier than I would have liked, but inevitable. I popped. At 9.5 weeks. I’m showing. I’m still in that “is she pregnant or is she chubbing up?” phase, but to anyone who knows me at all it’s clear that I’m not just chunking up. I don’t have a really small frame but I am relatively thin and fit so the pooch is very obvious, even under bulky sweatshirts (which are themselves suspicious since it’s 75 degrees out). The reception has been heartwarming, with the notable exception of my Ph.D. advisor, who was lukewarm (but that was still loads better than I expected).

My mother is over the moon, and actually reached out to a friend of hers from college whose daughter did IVF (not DE, but there’s not really that many of us). She tells everyone she meets that her daughter is pregnant with twins and when they sometimes ask “Naturally?”, she says “No, they struggled for a long time with infertility and found success doing IVF”. She doesn’t mention DE, which is fine as it’s a bit much for casual conversation, but I am so pleased that she doesn’t seem to view of the method of our conception as anything but a selling point. She seems to have adopted the attitude that anyone can have a baby, but that her child had to fight for her babies, and that makes her proud.

Recently I was corresponding with a friend who is also pregnant from DE, and she asked me if I ever think of the donor. I do. But not often. These are my babies, not hers. The importance of her role in this process can not be overstated, and I will always be grateful to her beyond belief. But all of the doubts and concerns I had about doing DE are almost totally gone. Like I said – these are my babies. I am building them out of my own blood, sweat and tears (and vomit, lots of vomit).

I’m excited to be pregnant. I’m scared, but in the normal way. My husband has finally relaxed and allowed himself to believe that these might actually be living breathing children in our arms one day. We’re talking about cribs and strollers and co-sleeping. But I still feel suspended between 2 worlds – not really part of the pregnant lady club (after all I snuck into their fete through an unlocked back door) but no longer really part of the infertility tribe (although I am still infertile – I have DOR and still am unable to have my own biological children – I just found a work around). I’ve chased down the many resource y’all sent for “pregnant after infertility” and am working to understand and integrate into that community. But in truth I still feel like a pregnancy impostor. The experiences of the women in my prenatal yoga class are unbelievably foreign to me. They seem so relaxed and natural about their pregnancies…what must that be like? But, that is a post for another day…

Boo-hoo, by mybrokenoven

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and that’s because I’m really struggling. I don’t even know where to start. I guess I’ll start with what’s happened – don’t worry, the babies are fine.

We had our second ultrasound and both babies were measuring exactly on track (7 weeks 3 days) and had HRs of 144 and 153. I found a doctor, or more precisely a group of midwives and doctors, who will take care of my prenatal stuff. I went to my appointment with them and really liked the midwife I saw and the practice.

So, my struggles. This is the hard part, and I have so much to say. And so much of what I have to say makes me feel stupid, and shallow and ungrateful. *sigh*

  • I feel awful. Really really awful. I swore I would never complain about pregnancy because I was always so angry at those women who complained. I wanted to be like “STFU, you’re pregnant. Be grateful.” But the constant nausea and vomiting (10-15x a day) really wears you down in both body and spirit. The doctor finally put me on Zofran because I couldn’t keep anything down. Of course, Zofran has very unpleasant side effects and those are in full force.
  • We just moved. The house is nice, much bigger and brighter and cleaner than our old place but it’s not home. I’m not comfortable here. I keep waking up and wanting to go home, but I’m not sure where home is anymore. It makes me sad. Plus, there’s a ton to do and I have zero energy or inclination to do any of it. Which means DH has done most of it and is very resentful. Gotta love that.
  • My family is far, far away. My mom, dad and sister came out to visit for Christmas, and the day they left I thought my heart would break. I had panic attacks all night. I don’t want to have my babies far away from my family. I don’t want them to only know my extended family (who all live on the same farm where I grew up) from holidays and family reunions. I want to go home. I want to raise my babies at home.
  • We got full custody of my step-daughter and her mother committed herself to a mental hospital after trying to burn her fathers house down (with him inside). No joke. Not a Jerry Springer episode. MY LIFE. So, I’m glad we have her and I’m glad she’s safe but going from no kids to a poorly mannered and somewhat out of control 8 year old with no chance of a break is difficult. Us having her full time with every other weekend visitation to her mom is one thing – this is completely different. She is driving me absolutely nuts. DH doesn’t help the situation because he’s never really been a parent to her and is still in “disney-land dad” mode. She is spoiled and whiney and doesn’t follow rules and he doesn’t help me enforce them. When my sister was here for the holidays she was appalled at her behavior. I try to talk to DH about it but he completely blows me off. Every day I shut myself in my closet and cry because I am so unhappy having her here, which makes me feel like an awful, horrible person. She’s 8 and she’s adjusting fine. I’m 37 and I’m falling apart.
  • Because I am so frustrated with my step-daughter and the situation I feel like maybe I shouldn’t have children at all. Will I resent them? Am I bad person? Will I be a bad mother? How will I manage with 2 infants and this child who doesn’t listen with no help from my husband? I feel like I can’t talk to my husband – he doesn’t listen and he doesn’t understand. And after seeing him full time with my step-daughter I have serious doubts as to his judgement and parenting abilities. And that scares me to death.
  • Financially, things are unstable. Between custody lawyers and IVF we are in serious debt. And I’m graduating and will need a job, but who will hire me when I’m pregnant? And what about after I have the babies? What then?
  • I thought that being an older parent would be helpful – I’ve gotten the partying out of my system, I’m (maybe) more patient, have more life experience. But in reality one of the things I’m struggling with is that I have spent a long time carefully crafting my life. I liked my life – travel, friends, gatherings – freedom. And now I feel like that life is ending forever and I’m panicking. What is WRONG with me? No babies could be more wanted than these babies! I went to hell and back to get these babies! And now that I’m finally pregnant I’m worried about my life ending? Enter the guilt. What is wrong with me? How can I possibly be feeling this way? I know so many people who give anything to have this chance and I’m being selfish and petty and immature!! But I can’t help it. I just…feel like that.

The overall idea, I think, is that I am unhappy and overwhelmed. Too much has changed too quickly and I am not good with change even at the best of times. I don’t know if crazy pregnancy hormones are partially to blame or not, but this isn’t how I thought it would be. I’m not excited, or even hopefully. I’m scared and panicked. And there’s no one to talk to. The infertility community is fantastic! There is so much love and support, so many people who can empathize and understand and commiserate.

There is no “pregnant after infertility” community. Because there’s that angle too – I feel what I can only describe as survivors guilt. I feel guilty that I’m pregnant and other people who have struggled even more than me, aren’t. I don’t want to tell people I’m pregnant because I’m worried one of them may be going through infertility and it may be hurtful to them. I’m scared of losing one or both of the babies. Infertility has made me pessimistic and fearful and I have no outlet for those feelings anymore. And I feel guilty for feeling all of things I listed above. I’m a big, sad, pathetic, scared, panicky, whiny sack. Boo-fucking-hoo, by mybrokenoven.

Drum roll please…

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2 babies with 2 heart beats!!! I am over the moon!!

2 babies with 2 heartbeats at 5 weeks 6 days (sorry for the picture quality - I'll post better later)

2 babies with 2 heartbeats at 5 weeks 6 days (sorry for the picture quality – I’ll post better later)

We went in for the ultrasound and DH was so nervous he was on the verge of tears. I thought he was going to punch the doctor as he was making small talk about his weekend, and us moving to a new house and the holidays blahblahblah. As I’ve been non-stop nauseous with occasional vomiting and extreme exhaustion I was less nervous and more excited. I told the doctor I thought there were 2 and I knew where they were in my uterus. He scoffed at me but I showed him anyway. Anyway, in goes the dildocam and immediately we could see the 2 sacs (right where I said they’d be, by the way). The first thing the doctor said was “Well, I’m glad you got a bigger house.” Yolks both measuring 4 mm, Baby B slightly smaller than Baby A – Baby A exactly on track at 5 weeks 6 days. And then…then…the flickers. I could only see it for a split second because that was the moment where I lost my shit and started sobbing on the table. Their tiny little hearts were beating. DH got a little misty eyed too, and he’s a straight up stoic kinda man’s man.

So, Baby A’s heart rate is 98 and Baby B’s is 88. I was concerned about Baby B’s being so much slower but the doctor said that seeing any heartbeat this early is excellent – he’s doesn’t expect to see them until 6 weeks 2-3 days. Plus, I know when both babies implanted (I know I sound nuts, but I felt it) and Baby B implanted 14-16 hours later than Baby A. So, to me it makes sense that he’d be a little behind. We go back in for another ultrasound on Dec. 27 and then I graduate to a real Ob-Gyn. (Which I haven’t picked yet – I get most of my medical care through the university, so I don’t have a regular Ob like most folks).

Also, it’s my dad’s birthday and I knew he and my mom were going crazy waiting to hear. So I made up a little birthday song (which he was quite annoyed with until I got to the end) – “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday Grandpa Dean, the number of babies is ……….. 2!”  Then there was a lot of whooping and hollering and hooting. As it turns out my dad had been with a patient (he’s an eye doctor, my mom and my best friends mom are his office staff since they retired) and they had all run in to his office to hear the news when they saw it was me calling. And as it turns out the patient was my third grade teacher, so that’s kinda cool (I told you I’m from a small town, right?).

I can’t even believe it. I know we’re not out of the woods yet, and lord knows I’ve had my heart broken right along with friends who have lost pregnancies after seeing the heartbeat (my heart is still breaking for you Unexpected), but it’s one more hurdle closer to the goal.

Thank you all for your encouragement and support – it’s such a wonderful feeling to have people to share this with (since we’re not telling anyone outside of family and close friends and apparently elementary school teachers). Ya’ll rock my world!

Beta #3 – 3722!!!

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I can’t thank you all enough for your support! Seriously, I’ve been losing it, and y’all have been beyond amazing. Thank you thank you thank. Thank you for pulling me through. As much as family and friends offer love and support no one really knows what it’s like to be in these situations, and how difficult it is – how difficult the whole infertility thing can be. And you guys get it. Your opinions and support are invaluable to me.

When the Doctor called and told me the new number and said he was totally baffled by the second beta. I asked him what it could be and he said he had no idea but that everything looked great and I shouldn’t worry. He said I don’t need another beta, and I go in for an ultrasound after I get back from my conference.

What do you guys think? Lab error? Something went wrong and corrected itself? Vanishing twin? Here are the betas –

  • 8 AM 9dp5dt – 586
  • 8 AM 11dp5dt – 697 (doubling time 191 hours)
  • 8 AM 13dp5dt – 3372 (doubling time 19 hors)

Well, whatever the reason – I’ll take it!

Losing my mind

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Let’s get something straight – patience has never been one of my virtues, so the waiting associated with infertility drives me absolutely nuts. And I am sick to death of waiting, especially because (with infertility) it so often feels like I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop. The shadow of failure is always hovering, defeat is always looming. I’ve spent so much time being cautious and curtailing my optimism during this process. This pregnancy was the first time I have really truly been whole-heartedly optimistic in years, seriously, years. We got that first high beta and I thought we were safe, I thought we were in the clear, so I was completely blindsided by the bad beta. It feels like infertility saw my hope and joy and turned around and bitch slapped me. Again.

I broke down to S last night. He’s been on a business trip for the last 4 days so it’s been me, my step-daughter and my mother-in-law (who came to watch A while I was at work). I haven’t had a free moment to myself. So once I picked S up from the airport at 11 PM all of the crazy, frightened, neurotic, angry feeling stew that had been brewing in me since the call with the bad beta news just erupted into a massive display of woe is me. There was a lot of “why is this happening?”, “why did I think this would work?”, “why did I think we could ever have a baby?”, “what did I do wrong?”, “what is wrong with me?” in between ridiculously theatrical massive sobs.

Now, I know it’s not over until the proverbial fat lady does her thing, but if there’s one thing infertility has taught me it’s that I am not the exception. I am (almost always) the worst case scenario (with the exception of the egg fertilization thing). I am clinging unbelievably tightly to all of your assurances that it could be a vanishing twin (thank you, sincerely, for all of the support), that there could still be a healthy baby hanging on, but I feel like I’m deluding myself.

I had a ton of symptoms up until Dec. 3 (see one of the earlier posts) and then they all kind of … went away. Not totally away – I had occasional mild nausea and slight cramping – but I thought maybe that was because the implantation part was done and we were moving on to another phase. Silly me. And now I have symptoms again but I think they’re a result of anxiety and possible impending miscarriage rather than pregnancy. My back aches a little, and I’ve been super nauseous – but I often get nauseous when I’m really upset (some of you may recall that while trying to chose a donor I cried so hard I threw up. Yep. You’re welcome).

Anyway, I’m just going hang out in my “woe is me” corner and rock back and forth, waiting for tomorrow to give blood so I can wait for the Doctor to call me. I’m sure I’ll fill my time with something constructive, like vacillating wildly between being completely convinced it’s over and mostly convinced it’s ok. Should be fun.

** And now for the good news!! We got full custody of my step-daughter! Her mother was declared an unfit parent and now is limited to 4 hours of supervised contact every other weekend. She didn’t even bother to show up in court. When we told A she was going to live with us now she asked a few questions like, “Will I ever see my mom again?”, and “Will I go to school here now?”, and then said “Well,  good. It’s better here. This is a better place for a kid, but don’t tell my mom I said that.”

Beta #1

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4:45 PM Had my blood drawn at 8:00 AM. The nurses told me the doctor wouldn’t be calling until the afternoon. Now it’s 4:45 and I STILL haven’t heard a peep. I broke down and called them a few minutes ago and the receptionist said they had just started their daily results meeting and he would be calling soon. I am losing my mind. I understand now how the police get people to talk by leaving them in a room for a few hours with their thoughts. Leave me alone with my thoughts and vague feeling of anxiety and I’m suddenly a raving lunatic. I have been absolutely confident throughout this whole cycle, except for the last 2 hours. And in these last 2 hours every fear, doubt, and previous terrible IF experience has come creeping back in. Are all of those gazillion BFP’s only positive because tests have gotten so good that they detect even small (read here: chemical pregnancy) amounts of hCG? Are all of my symptoms psychosomatic? And I know that no matter what this beta is (because it will be some number greater than 5, I know that for certain) there will be another beta on Thursday and this whole traumatic experience will repeat itself. I am literally staring at the phone and willing it to ring. 

5:12 PM Willing the phone to ring didn’t work. It’s fine, right? It’s gonna be fine. Right?

5:20 PM My mom just called to check and see what the news was (like I wouldn’t have already called her if I knew). I just about jumped out of my skin. WTF is taking them so long? I have to go home and start cooking dinner, but I’m afraid to get in the elevator because there’s no reception there, or in the stairwell. I’m trapped in my office!!

Beta #1 – 586!!!!!  Wha….?!

 

 

The Great Pee Project

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hideBecause of my early loss last year everyone is very on-edge about this pregnancy, including my mother. Now this woman is usually the picture of optimism and thriftiness, but she told me to go out and buy enough pregnancy tests to test every morning and night until my beta. As a POAS junkie I was happy to oblige. I call her with the results every morning and night and can hear the relief in her voice when the lines are darker. Often, she asks for pictures, just to ease her mind. Thus, I have pictures! So, I thought I would share the Great Pee Project with all of you. You’re welcome, as I know you long to look at things I’ve urinated on. *HA*

Keep in mind, some of these were taken with FMU, some at mid-day and some at night and the concentration of the urine plays a big part in how dark the line is. Also, many of these photos were taken well after the time period was up (obviously) and so they can seem a bit darker or lighter then they were during the 3-5 minutes (especially the blue dye tests, which get lighter and Dollar Store tests, which get darker).  *The FRER’s that are linked will take you to Amazon where you can purchase these tests. This is an amazon affiliate link, and I get paid a little bit of money if you buy from them. That being said, you may be able to find them cheaper elsewhere, so shop around. Regardless of where you get them, these were the best tests I found. Although you can’t beat the Dollar Store tests for price!*

4dp5dt, 5dp5dt, 6dp6dt with FRER. The 4 day one has faded some.

4dp5dt, 5dp5dt, 6dp6dt with FRER (FMU). The 4 day one has faded some.

Comparison (left to right) of Assure from the Dollar Store, CVS Early Response and FRER. FRER is from FMU, $ Store at noon, CVS at bedtime on 5dp5dt

Comparison (left to right) of Assure from the Dollar Store, CVS Early Response and FRER. FRER is from FMU, $ Store at noon, CVS at bedtime on 5dp5dt

FRER (FMU) and Dollar Store test (mid-day) on 6dp5dt

FRER (FMU) and Dollar Store test (mid-day) on 6dp5dt

8dp5dt, CVS Early Response and Assure Dollar Store tests

8dp5dt, CVS Early Response and Assure Dollar Store tests, FMU

Assured Brand Dollar Store tests taken either at mid-day or before bed, 3-8dpt

Assured Brand Dollar Store tests taken either at mid-day or before bed, 4-8dpt

Symptoms – ’cause I got ’em

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At 10:30 AM on Nov 24th they transferred 2 5AA blasts in to my broken oven (get it? get it?). Although I guess really my oven is fine, it’s my eggs that are broken…  I know some of you are going to think I’m crazy, but I swear I felt implantation and I’ve been pretty convinced since then that this cycle worked. Anyways, here are my “symptoms” broken down by day (I’ve been keeping a journal).

  • 0dpt – At 5:30 PM I felt a strong pinching on the lower left side of my uterus which continued, on and off, for the rest of the night. 80% sure this cycle is a go. (*Side note – one thing IF teaches you is exactly where your uterus and ovaries are)
  • 1dpt – Continued pinching and slight cramping at the same spot in my abdomen as well as 2-3 minutes of pinching in the upper right area of my uterus. I am convinced now that this is implantation. In the PM I start to develop stronger cramps (not in a specific location). 90% certain this is working.
  • 2dpt – Hard to get out of bed, very tired even after 9 hours of sleep. In the shower my wrist brushed my right nipple and I gasped with shock b/c it was so sensitive, totally surprised myself (and left one was normal, wth?). Wasn’t on the look out for symptoms so this shocked me. In the afternoon I had no increased sensitivity in my nips. Continued cramping on the lower left in particular and the whole lower abdominal area in general. By 5 PM my lower abdomen felt  heavy and full, like it does in the hours before AF starts.  All day I felt weird and “floaty”, but the progesterone (Endometrin and lozenges) makes me tired and kind of out of it so this may be nothing. However, I’ve been on progesterone for almost a week and haven’t felt this way before. I pee’d on an OPK, just because I had it in my desk at work (who the hell knows why?) and because I like to pee on sticks. It was, of course, negative. (But I still enjoyed it). I “feel” pregnant today. 100% sure of this cycle being the one.
  • 3dpt – AM – Nothing. No symptoms. No cramping, no “floaty” feeling, a little bit of a heavy tummy, but not nearly so much as yesterday. A few tiny cramps in the mid-afternoon, and a bit of backache (but that’s not unusual). Because I’m a crazy baby lunatic who can’t think of anything but my uterus I pee’d on a stick at 12:30, which was of course a BFN. Didn’t actually dampen my spirits at all as 99.8% of me knew it would be BFN. By 6 PM the heavy lower tummy feeling was back along with cramping and lower back ache. I am exhausted (but I also have all of my in-laws staying at my house and have been cooking and cleaning all day). Also, constipated. Because I’m gross and crazy and a POAS junkie I looked at the old test before I went to bed and there was the very faintest whisper of a second line. So, I got out a Dollar Store test and got a BFN. Still, I’m 90% positive I’m pregnant.
  • 4dpt – I woke up at 4:00 AM with what felt like a side stitch on the left side of my lower abdomen. Had a backache and was crampy all night. Sat on DH’s lap right after he ate some pizza at lunch, and his breath smelled so bad/strong I ran into the bathroom gagging. Since I was in there anyway I pee’d on a stick (FRER*) and within a minute there was a faint but clear BFP (below)!! Still no boob symptoms (soreness, veins, sensitivity, etc), no metallic taste. I have bad AF type cramping and a backache and I’m am SUPER irritable, which is weird because I’m also super happy. But seriously, everyone is annoying the crap out of me. Starting to feel bloated, still constipated (you’re welcome!). Pee’d on a Dollar Store test at 8 PM and got a very faint positive. As I was going to bed I got tingly nips.
  • 5dpt – Had a hard time sleeping last night because of the backache (but that’s not too unusual for me – stupid tight hamstrings). Pee’d on a FRER this morning at 8 AM (FMU) and and the line is twice as dark as it was yesterday (!). Below is the light FRER from 4dp5dt at 11 AM, and the FRER from 5dp5dt at 8 AM (FMU). Same symptoms continue – mainly cramping. In the early evening I got REALLY dizzy. I feel like the sensitivity of my skin has increased because my face wash burns, but that may just be my imagination. Got a positive on a $ Store test and a CVS Early Response (mid-day and PM).
  • 6dp5dt – Lines are getting darker!! Still a little crampy, full feeling abdomen, backache. Super nauseous for a few minutes.
4dp5dt, 5dp5dt, 6dp6dt with FRER. The 4 day one has faded some.

4dp5dt, 5dp5dt, 6dp6dt with FRER. The 4 day one has faded some.

  • 7dp5dt – Ran out of FRER’s. Dark positive on a CVS One Step with FMU. Backache and crampy. Still no boob-type symptoms or food aversions. Looked at a calendar and realized my beta is on Tues, not Mon! Grrrrr…..
  • 8dpt – Not much to report. Cramping is almost gone except for occasional twinges, backaches still lingers. I’m getting episodes of mild nausea, especially if my stomach is empty but food is terribly unappetizing. Tests keep getting darker. I’ve included a picture from this morning of a Dollar Store Assure Brand test and a CVS Early Response, both done with the same FMU. The CVS test I took 2 days ago was very light (never get the blue dye tests) so the dark line on that is particularly satisfying.
8dp5dt, CVS Early Response and Assure Dollar Store tests

8dp5dt, CVS Early Response and Assure Dollar Store tests

I have endlessly googled early pregnancy symptoms so I’ll just keep adding to this same post until the day of my beta (which is Monday  – 9dp5dt), so that I can repay the favor for those of you looking for symptoms.

I know cautious optimism is called for here, but I feel really confident about this “Squatchy-ness”. My symptoms have been strong the whole time and implantation happened early. The dark lines up there make me feel better. I think Tues (beta day) is going to be a good day!

*I have linked to the First Response Early Result tests that I used on Amazon. This is an affiliate link, which means that if you buy from them I get a little $. However, you may be able to find them cheaper elsewhere so please shop around. Regardless, the FRER tests were the best in terms of sensitivity, although you can’t beat the Dollar Store brand for price! (And they were reliable as well).

 

I found Bigfoot!! BFP!!!

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It’s still light, but it is crystal clear.

I tested yesterday at 1 PM (I know, I know) and it was BFN. But as I was getting ready for bed I glanced over at the counter where I had laid the HPT and there was a whisper faint “you can see it in the right light if you turn your head and squint maybe” second line. I know better than to make too much of that but it was still…interesting, especially at 3dp5dt.

Today (4dp5dt) after lunch I was sitting on my husbands lap and the smell of pizza on his breath was so strong and awful (sorry baby, not your fault) that I ran into the bathroom gagging. Poor DH! Decided that was as good a time as any to POAS, and the double line came up within a minute. Let’s pray that line keeps getting darker!

 

Feeling squatchy

My brother-in-law is obsessed with Bigfoot (I promise this is going somewhere). We get him Bigfoot everything – statues, t-shirts, hats, movies. He will take his 2 young sons out “Squatch hunting” for the weekend. Really, it’s an excuse to get to them to go out camping. And the obsession, I think, is his way of trying to embrace the idea of something wild and unknowable. He likes the idea that there’s something out there that we don’t know about, something elusive and hard to find, something that may not even exist. A few nights ago S and A and I were watching “Finding Bigfoot” and S asked me if I was “feeling squatchy”. I laughed, because I knew exactly what he meant.

“Pregnant” in our house has intense meaning. It’s associated with loss, and fear and sadness. It comes with phrases like “You’ll never be able to get pregnant with your own eggs”, and “You’re technically pregnant, but you’re going to loss it soon.” So now we’ve moved on to “squatchy”. The idea being that we’re on the pursuit of something elusive, something hard to find and even more difficult to catch. I like it. I like the whimsy of it, and the silliness. And I do, I feel squatchy.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, my dears. Happy Squatch hunting.

*In other news, we got emergency custody of my step-daughter with a hearing for a permanent custody change next week. Our lawyer thinks we’ll get her.

 

 

 

 

Embryo Transfer

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Yesterday I had my embryo transfer and it went better than I could have possibly imagined!

My step-daughter is in town so she and DH dropped me off at the clinic and went GeoCaching. It sucks that he wasn’t there for the transfer but it would have been really boring for her, and we don’t want to tell her what’s going on. Right now we just say that I have something wrong with my tummy, it doesn’t work quite right, and the doctors are trying to fix it.

Anyway, I got my acupuncture (the needles in the ears hurt like a mofo!!) and then they sent me into the operating room and sat me in that weird “hang upside down by your feet with your legs spread” contraption. As I was getting settled the doctor said,

Dr: “I have some good news, but we have to talk. 5 of your 6 embryos made it blastocysts (!!!), and 2 of them are perfect 5AA blasts. You and S had mentioned that you want to transfer 2. I need to warn you that these embryos are of excellent quality, and if you transfer 2 you have a very good chance of getting pregnant with twins. A good chance like 55%. Is that still what you’d like to do?”

Me: …..Valium stare…..

Dr: “I would advise that you transfer 1, but I understand if you want to transfer 2. But I need to know that you understand the risks that we previously discussed.”

Me: “2. Yes. We want 2. The path of least regret for us is 2.”

Dr. “Ok.2 it is.”

Then the embryologist comes out and tells me that in addition to the 2 perfect little guys who are already hatching and are going into the oven today we also have 2 4BB embryos and an early blast that they think will progress nicely and be frozen along with its siblings. So, 2 go in and 3 go on ice!!

My bladder wasn’t quite full enough (easy for them to say) so the transfer took a while, but I finally saw the 2 little dots of light on the ultrasound go into my uterus and settle in. I can tell you as a fact that I once worried that I wouldn’t feel like donor eggs would be mine – that the children wouldn’t feel like mine – but I felt every bit as protective and excited about those little dots of light as I did when they were from my own eggs. The only difference is that this was tinged with an almost overwhelming gratitude for our donor, who made this possible. If anything, it added to the feeling of wonder.

They wheeled me out and then I had more acupuncture (ouchie ears!!!) and then home for a Valium induced sleep.

I am still tired today, and my stomach is upset from the antibiotics and all the other meds, but I am over the moon!! 2 in the oven and 2-3 as a back up!! Better than I could have ever expected! I’ve included a photo below of our 2 5AA hatching blasts. Sorry for the quality – it’s a phone picture of print out so whaddyagonnado?

 

Our 5AA hatching blastocysts, currently in the oven.

Our 5AA hatching blastocysts, currently in the oven.

Because I’m a POAS addict, and because we have a back-up plan and because I live right next to a Dollar Store I’ve decided to start testing on my own pretty early, probably 3dp5dt, PM. I feel like with hatching blasts people usually get a BFP (if they’re going to get it) starting around 5-6dp5dt.  In the meantime, I’m just going to try to relax and stay off the internet (yeah, right).

*On a different note – we’ve filed an emergency custody order to get my step-daughter away from her pregnant druggy mom who (3 days ago) threatened suicide, again. We have her for the whole week of Thanksgiving so it’s likely she just won’t go home again (of course, her mother is currently homeless so she doesn’t actually have a home to go back to). We could go from 0 kids to 3 kids in 3 weeks! Wouldn’t that be something.

Good news!! Good news!!

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Hear ye, hear ye – the next time I start to throw a pity party someone remind me of this moment!

I swear, I feel like a dog that’s been kicked. With regards to IF I anticipate the worst constantly, mainly because that’s pretty much what’s it always been. I’m always cowering from the next blow. BUT, here’s what happened today.

When we got to our RE’s office for the transfer the Dr called us back to his office…weird. As it turns out 10 out of the 12 eggs were mature, and we had 7, not 6 that fertilized. Which means we’re well above my dreaded and feared 50% fertilization cut off. AND, 6 of the 7 of them are progressing very well, and we’ve been moved to a 5-day transfer! YIPPPEEEEEE!!!  So, the criteria are Cell Number, Embryo Grade (Good, Fair, Poor), Cell Symmetry (Perfect, Moderate, Severe), and Percent Fragmentation. Here’s the stats on Day 3…

  1. 8, Good, Perfect, 0%
  2. 10, Good, Moderate, 5%
  3. 10, Good, Moderate, 10%
  4. 14, Good, Moderate, 0%
  5. 8, Good, Moderate, 15%
  6. 8, Good, Moderate, 5%

Sorry for being such a whiny downer lately. And for posting so much. I promise not to post again until after the transfer. In the meantime…url