September 23, 2009
Tuesdays are the best day of the week: the day the babies’ gestational age turns over. It all started when I had my IUI on a Tuesday, way back when, and since then every Tuesday has been “turnover day.”
On Tuesdays I systematically go through the different online week-by-week fetal development websites, and learn that my babies are now the size of jicamas or that their toenails are fully developed.
On Tuesdays I open the spreadsheet I made to track gestational age and post-birth visitors (which requires all sorts of if/then decision trees). Maybe the best moment of the week is deleting the prior week’s gestational age column — yesterday, goodbye 31w. It simultaneously satisfies my OCD list mentality and also signals that yes, we really have reached a new milestone. The projected NICU stay goes down by one week with each deletion. It’s no longer out of the question that they might have little or no NICU time at all. This little ritual has become even more meaningful since I was hospitalized a month ago for preterm labor. The initial prognosis when I was having contractions 4 minutes apart and dilating quickly was that I might deliver that day (28w0d) but that maximum I’d maybe make it to 31w or 32w. 32 weeks, here I am.
On Tuesdays (and now also Fridays, since I’ve been in the hospital) I have an ultrasound, and every other Tuesday it’s an extended ultrasound to measure their growth. When I’m on the table, I say to myself that this is the best moment of the week. Listening to their heartbeats has lost its novelty after being hooked up to the TOCO and fetal monitors for more than an hour each day (down from over 2 hours per day when I was first hospitalized), but the ultrasound thrills me every time.
Yesterday was an even better every-other-Tuesday than usual, because I came home from the hospital. I was so afraid to leave the hospital a couple of weeks ago, but now it sure is good to be home.
September 1, 2009
Still in the hospital, we’re all hanging in there. Mostly uneventful except for a resurgence of contractions over the weekend, now back under control. Cervix has actually grown from .5 cm back to .9 cm! They would let me go soon if I wanted, but I’m not ready to leave just yet.
Now for the omen. I received these chips with my hospital lunch.
The “guaranteed fresh until” date is my ideal date to finish helping these babies get “baked,” for several reasons.
It would be 36 weeks, an excellent twin gestation. That is too much to hope for me now, as 36 weeks would be well beyond all doctors’ expectations. But, it sure sounds good.
It is the birthday of my late grandfather, the first birthday since his death.
It is even the birthday of another set of twins in my family.
I can’t think that far ahead — it’s one day at at time, one hour at a time right now. But wouldn’t it be nice? Until then, I’ll just be lying here with my little taters.
August 28, 2009
Not the bad kind of progress, as in “labor is progressing.” The good kind of progress, as in “there is some progress toward a positive outcome.” No contractions at all during any TOCO monitoring in the past 2 days. I have only noticed one contraction in the last 24 hours (but I didn’t notice them at all when they were rampant, so I may not be the best judge). The medication seems to be holding.
They’re talking about sending me home early next week.
I don’t know if I want to go.
As long as I’m here, if anything bad starts to happen, I feel like they can make it okay. At home, I’ll go to the doctor once a week and continue with medication and bedrest. I will most likely wonder constantly what symptoms I’m not noticing, and I will dwell on whether I can catch them in time. If I go home, there will almost certainly be another ambulance ride in my future. It could be after one week or one month, and it could result in another stabilization or an emergency C-section, but none of the doctors think I can make it to 34 weeks.
By all accounts, November is now laughably out of the question. Early October seems to be the best case scenario. For now, it seems pretty sure that we will at least get to September, and that is so much more than I had a few days ago.
Thank you to everyone for your kindness and hope. Apparently all of the other patients around here are blaring the TV all day long (I wouldn’t know, since I haven’t left the room), but your comments are way better than TV.
August 27, 2009
I have another post in my to-be-written Thoughtful Thursday queue that is perfect for this week’s events. But, emotionally I am not in a place to write that post today. We’ll try again next week.
Instead, I will address a topic that is easier for me but probably harder for you. If this is the easy topic for me, you must be asking yourself, what’s coming next week? First things first.
What was the worst day of your life?
This topic came to me Tuesday night, my first night in the hospital. As my husband, shockingly, got a full night’s sleep on the daybed, I tossed and turned and sobbed in my Kraftmatic adjustable
labor putting-off-labor bed.
The worst day? What about that day, so many years ago, when a boyfriend tried to rape me? Naaah, that’s nothing compared to this.
Snapshots of Tuesday that make it a candidate for worst:
- Being told by MFM at weekly cervical check to drive immediately to the hospital but drop by the house and pack a bag first.
- I brought the book I happen to be in the middle of reading, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins. Every few sentences I’d have to put the book down and cry at the thought that I might not have twins, or any babies, to bring home. The Pottery Barn catalog that we grabbed from the mailbox when we went home to pack a bag did not lead to crying, but I couldn’t simultaneously hold it up and turn the pages because of the pain in my hand from my poorly-placed IV. (Fourth IV turned out to be the charm.)
- Alternating between thinking that the worst part would be losing these babies that I love so much, or that it would be worse to have to go back to fertility treatments after I thought I was done. I don’t know if that makes me a horrible person, or just a battered infertile.
- Not being able to be alone with my thoughts for more than 60 seconds without crying. Not at all like me, as most of you know.
- At the first hospital, dealing with the one midwife from my practice that I hate (out of 3 OBs and 6 midwives). She was the one on call two weeks ago at my non-stress test too. DH was out of the room whenever she was there during my first hospital visit, and he hadn’t accompanied to me to the routine appointment a couple of months ago when I met her the first time. At one point when she left the hospital room on Monday, I whispered to DH, “She’s the one I don’t like.” DH said, “I can tell.” I asked, “Because of how she is or because of my reaction to her?” DH said, “Both, but more because of her. Everyone else here is normal.” Another time I’ll tell you why I hate her so much. You will hate her too.
- Signing consent for emergency delivery in the ambulance.
- OB’s talk of delivery 3 to 4 weeks from now (31 to 32 weeks) as the unlikely best case scenario.
- When finally left alone with DH in the first hospital, crying, then pulling myself together halfway. When the lovely, cheerful nurse came to tell me that the ambulance would be ready soon, she asked me how I was doing. I did not give her a pat answer and instead just looked at her teary-eyed and speechless. Her cheerfulness turned to intense sympathy. I don’t know if anyone has ever looked at me quite like that before. I don’t know how I feel about being on the receiving end of a look like that.
- Ambulance ride was actually kind of fun at times, but needing to be in an ambulance was not. Even worse was that I actually stole it out from under another woman in Labor and Delivery who was supposed to be transported to another hospital, because I was much more urgent.
- Signing consent for emergency c-section, just in case.
- Meeting with anesthesiologist to talk about c-section options (she actually was quite pleasant, as almost everyone has been; both hospitals are full of outstanding bedside manner that makes me glad I don’t live in most of the places I used to live where people weren’t nearly so nice).
- Much talk about delivering imminently.
- Being told to expect a consult with a neonatologist and a NICU tour the next day.
- At both hospitals, being asked if I was “prepared” to bring the babies home, with cribs, car seats, etc. Standard labor and delivery question. No, I am not prepared — it is too early. I suggested to DH that we place the orders instead of waiting for people to buy them off our not-really-publicized-because-it-has-been-too-early registry. Then I reconsidered, not wanting to end up with two of everything when I might need only one. Or zero.
- Lying in bed, unable to shift to get remotely comfortable thanks to my catheter and IV, without any distraction but my almost-out-of-battery iPod. I tried to make myself sleepy with soothing songs, but every soothing song I could find made me burst into tears. Just like I can find infertility content in songs that have nothing to do with infertility, I can find Dead Baby and doom messages in anything, even songs that are supposed to hopeful. To top it off, blowing my nose after crying with every song hurt the catheter site terribly (eventually when I called the nurse to fix it, when I was in constant pain, we figured out why: it seems to have been jostled out of place just a bit, just enough to hurt, during the ambulance transport). Anyway, I didn’t want to listen to happy, upbeat songs that would make me un-sleepy. But, being alone in silence with my thoughts was worse. I tried a creative visualization, the first time I’ve ever tried that particular one, and it was good for 30 seconds at a time until my mind would wander to Dead Baby Thoughts. The only thing that eventually put me to sleep without crying, for a whopping one hour (after caving and agreeing to sleep medication!), was Radiohead. OK Computer is my go-to album when I’m upset. I should have just gone to it automatically at a time like this, but I don’t want it to take on bad connotations by bringing it out every time I am deeply upset. Let’s hope there aren’t too many times like this in the future.
Why the day loses the Worst prize:
- 24 hours later, my babies are still inside.
Instead, the Worst Day of My Life prize belongs to the day of my first miscarriage because that cloud did not end with a silver lining.
The current cloud has glimmers of silver so far, with potential for a complete lining or even full-blown silver through and through. Still a chance of rain, but I’m trying to keep looking out for the silver.
What was the worst day of your life? If it’s too awful to describe, I suppose you can just say that, but at least tell us whether there was any silver lining.
August 27, 2009
We interrupt this week’s regularly scheduled Show and Tell pottery-themed broadcast to bring you this special report…
Red and blue babies’ heart rate lines, beautiful as they have been the whole time in the hospital. Black contraction line now wonderfully flat instead of contracting strongly every 4 minutes.
Ignore the “No FM” sign; that means I was not hooked up to the monitor when I took the picture. I can’t very well stand up and take pictures while I’m strapped down to triple monitors.
Magnesium sulfate has stopped the contractions. The cervical shortening continues. Even though there’s almost no cervix left to shorten further (from 2 centimeters last week to .9 centimeters Tuesday to only .5 centimeter Wednesday, consistently 80% effaced Tuesday and Wednesday, 1 centimeter dilated at first on Tuesday then 2-3 centimeters dilated Tuesday night and Wednesday), there is hope that we will make it to September. Maybe even October. These are not supposed to be summer babies. These are autumn babies. Do you hear me, babies? Wait until the leaves start falling, please. The leaves are very pretty around here. Wait and see.
I’ll be in the hospital for at least a few more days, possibly weeks. Every doctor laughs when I say that I’ll stay here for 3 months if they’d like, but I mean it.
August 11, 2009
After the happy-go-lucky fun of my 200th post, time for the not-so-good 201st.
Good news first: at the MFM today, ultrasound showed that the babies are developing wonderfully.
Not-good news: my cervix has shortened to less than 2 cm.
MFM called the OB and they decided that I should head immediately to the hospital for a non-stress test. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. We did stop at home since it was on the way to get a book for me (Barren Bitches Book Brigade coming up!) and laptop for DH, anticipating that, best case scenario, I’d be at the hospital for at least a couple of hours. That was a wise move. I may start keeping books and laptops in the car for every appointment.
Non-stress test showed no contractions, nothing to be concerned about aside from the cervix.
I’m now on modified bedrest pending an OB visit in a couple of days and weekly MFM appointments after that. At least I have a good excuse for missing that meeting tomorrow.
Although I’m sorry they’re in the same (or worse) boat, it’s been so helpful to have several other pregnant-with-multiples-after-IF bloggers go through similar issues recently. Knowing what to expect kept me from freaking out when I was ordered to go to the hospital immediately. You should have seen DH’s face, though — as concerned as I’ve ever seen him.
Previously I’ve had the thought, “Shouldn’t they be monitoring my cervix more often?” I’ve also had the thought, “I love seeing the babies on the ultrasound, too bad it’s only once a month.” Be careful what you wish for.
Uneventful twin pregnancy (except for partial placenta previa, which has resolved) is now teetering on the brink of being eventful. Too eventful.
Fun infertility note: MFM decided that the abdominal ultrasound wasn’t enough for evaluating my cervix and that she needed a dildocam.
MFM: Have you had a vaginal ultrasound before?
Me, very chipper: Yes, over a hundred!
June 10, 2009
Yesterday was my Level II ultrasound. Babies and cervix were as they should be. Wonderfully reassuring, and at times miraculous. It’s amazing that fetuses have all of the body parts that they do, and it’s amazing to be able to see them. After all, most of us haven’t even seen our own cerebellum or watched our own hearts beating.
Leading up to the scan, I experienced a flurry of emotions. As with the nuchal scan, sleeplessness thanks to a combination of Dead Baby Thoughts and excitement. Eagerness to see the babies again and hopefully learn the sexes. And… a bit of sadness at the prospect of finally knowing the sexes.
Let’s step back first. Remember when you were a kid, and you imagined what your life partner might look like, act like, be? Tall, average, short? Brown hair, blond hair, black hair, red hair? (Bald probably wasn’t on the list for most of us.) Maybe he would be royalty, and you’d become a princess. Maybe he would be the funniest person ever, and you would laugh all day every day. Maybe he’d be a musician, serenading you by day and singing you to sleep by night. Maybe you would climb mountains together, or debate philosophy, or attend glamorous A-list parties. The possibilities were infinite, and most of us only imagined wonderful possibilities.
Then, when you finally met someone who you thought might be your life partner, you were so swept away by the reality of the person that the fact that the possibilities had just narrowed probably didn’t enter your mind.
With babies, it’s much the same thing — except that it’s quite different. Babies are also infinite possibility — within the realm of genetic reality. Two short parents are unlikely to produce a tall genetic child, for example. Still, the almost-infinite possibilities abound. My children could have any hair colors: brown most likely, possibly blond or black hair (my husband was a blond child, whereas my hair was as close to black as brown hair can get), not impossible but probably not red (though there are gingers in my family). Eye colors are up in the air, though my dominant brown eye genes will probably overtake their father’s blue eye genes. Small butt like me, or bodacious butt like their father? Skinny like their father, or not-skinny like me? Angel babies like I was, or colicky handfuls like their father? Math nerds like me, or math geeks like their father? Sticklers for precision in language like me, or sticklers… apparently some possibilities are not so infinite after all. My children could choose almost any profession in the world — except that they’ll be too tall to be jockeys, too unathletic to be most other types of professional athlete, too cynical to run for public office — though that last one is more nurture than nature, it’s just as inevitable.
The less-than-wonderful possibilities exist too. Will they inherit ADHD, depression, substance dependence from my side? Life-threatening allergies, anxiety disorders, diabetes from his side? Will my daughter be mortified to hit puberty before most of her friends? Will my son be humiliated to learn that he was not conceived the old-fashioned way and that he is not a “natural” twin? Will my children grow up to be infertile?
Every person who has not yet met their child has a broad set of possibilities they imagine for that child. One thing that happens with infertility is that the time for imagining is longer than it is for most — many of my fertile friends had less than a year from pulling the goalie to holding a baby in their arms, and my knocked-up cousins didn’t even get the lead time to think about pulling the goalie. I had two and a half decades to fantasize about my potential someday children, then seven years to imagine my “when they hell are they going to get here?” children. During those seven years, my imagination covered every possibility — good and bad. Mostly good long-term possibilities, but plenty of bad pregnancy and infant possibilities thanks to the shattering of my rose-colored glasses by infertility.
And so, as much as I have wanted to know the sexes of these babies, as the time approached I also realized that the information would constrain my world of possibilities forever. Two boys would mean that I might never get to experience parenting a daughter. Two girls would mean that the first and middle names we selected years ago in honor of my husband’s grandfathers could forever go unused. One boy and one girl would mean that my twins might not enjoy the same closeness that I’ve witnessed in many same-sex twins — and that this would probably be my last (and only successful) pregnancy (knock on wood), because with one of each we would probably never try to conceive again.
Yes, I know, cry me a river. I realize that these are not actual problems. But possibility is sometimes the only thing an infertile can cling to, and contrary to what I imagined would happen for all of those years, setting aside possibility to embrace reality can be a difficult leap to make.
Those were my thoughts leading up to the scan, anyway. And once I learned the reality? Ecstatic. Unequivocally beaming. Anticipation is a mindfuck, but the reality was as exciting as I’d imagined. Unlike my husband, who adamantly has no gender preference, once I learned one sex I was totally rooting that the next baby would be the opposite sex. I know that rooting doesn’t change the DNA that was put into motion over 100 days ago, but in my head I was rooting. Rooting like a cheerleader. A nauseous cheerleader with her belly hanging out and covered with goo.
Oh, you want to know the sexes? See the photos? Okay, since you’ve come this far.
Baby A, my…
…son! The ultrasound technician and MFM doctor both had full confidence. The circle on his chest is Baby B’s head, but they’re not actually crammed together, yet.
Baby B, my…
…probably daughter! 90% sure. She was a little modest and wouldn’t spread-eagle like her brother, but after staring at her crotch extensively and patiently waiting for her to shift, everyone thinks she is very likely a girl. It’s sure enough that I can start decorating the nursery, but uncertain enough that we have ammunition to try to persuade my mother-in-law to put off scouring the garage sales for any more baby items that I didn’t want in the first place. Unfortunately I think we’ve already lost that battle. We can look forward to her bursting into tears many more times over our rejection of the
junktreasure she has unearthed, but between learning the babies’ sexes and starting pottery, today I am in too good a mood to care.