28w3d: Progress

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.

Thoughtful Thursday: Worst

August 27, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday

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.

Show and Tell: Flat

August 27, 2009

Show and Tell

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.

28w: Lights and Sirens

August 25, 2009

Remember two weeks ago when I posted the 99 Things meme? Now I can cross another one off the list.

46. Been transported in an ambulance

I’m in the hospital. Cervix shortened more and started dilating and effacing. I was contracting even though I couldn’t feel it. Local hospital sent me in an ambulance to a bigger hospital. We’ve had steroids for the babies’ lungs. Drugs to slow down labor seem to be working for now. Not how I thought I would spend today.

Alternating between freaking the fuck out and trying to trust.

Perfect Moment

(Note: Pregnancy mentioned, though the post is ultimately about infertility.)

A year ago, I wrote about the clean sweep I had to make of my house in advance of a visit from DH’s family.

I hid it all. Books on fertility and pregnancy. The few baby items I’d purchased or made over the years. Prenatal vitamins. Basal body thermometer. Stupid piece-of-crap ovulation predictor watch. Syringes. Sharps boxes. RE paperwork. Fertility medications, unrefrigerated and refrigerated. (The latter required a bit of creativity, as I described last year.)

The family is back. Just before they drove up, I made another sweep of the house (a rather cursory sweep, since I’m on bedrest and not supposed to be roaming around the house).

  • Books on pregnancy displayed prominently on bookshelf. Fertility and infertility books scattered among them — I will not hide them anymore.
  • Baby items are everywhere. We did have to move some of the bulkier items to different rooms so that the people sleeping in the babies’ room can actually get through the door, but that was tidying rather than hiding.
  • Prenatal vitamins out in the open.
  • BBT and ovulation predictor still hidden wherever I left them — they were useless to me, so who knows where they are.
  • RE paperwork left in the same pile in the office, under the mounds of OB and MFM paperwork.
  • Syringes, sharps boxes, and meds cleared out of the bathroom cabinet. They filled a grocery bag to overflowing, mostly with unused needles. Hundreds and hundreds of needles. Infertility aside, it would be a little weird to go into anyone’s bathroom and find a giant sharps box and hundreds of unused needles. More an act of courtesy than subterfuge.
  • Refrigerated meds haven’t been in the refrigerator for months (only a few leftover progesterone suppositories remain). I had stuffed them in a drawer somewhere during a prior clean sweep when I was pregnant but not yet telling people. This time, I am leaving them wherever they happen to be. Anyone who goes digging around the deep recesses of drawers deserves to find vaginal suppositories. Too bad they don’t have VAGINAL written in big letters on the package.

The perfect moments?

  1. I don’t have to hide my pregnancy, nor the intention to become pregnant, because I am finally pregnant. My giant belly and I are on bedrest; I couldn’t hide it even if I wanted to.
  2. If someone wants to snoop around and learns about our infertility history, fine. I am okay with that. I’m still not going to advertise it, but after 7 years of secrecy, if someone wants to ask the question, I will tell them the answer.

See what other perfect moments people have to offer on Perfect Moment Monday, hosted by Lori from Weebles Wobblog.

Thoughtful ThursdayFollowing up on this week’s Barren Bitches Book Brigade discussion of Moose, as well as an article I read a few weeks ago

How has infertility improved your life?

A year ago, I made a list of gifts that infertility has given me.

  • Interactions with amazing people, both those dealing with their own infertility and those who have sought to help me with mine.
  • No more anxiety when getting injections, even from myself. A doctor once told me that he has never in his career seen a patient so calm when he stuck a needle in their eyelid.
  • Greater understanding of my body.
  • Awareness of an underlying sub-clinical thyroid condition which is not problematic now but may become an issue in the future.
  • Much more empathy than I had before for everyone who experiences infertility, pregnancy loss, loss of a child, etc.
  • The end to my delusion that I have control over what happens in my life. The Yiddish proverb, “We plan; G-d laughs” makes so much more sense now.

To that list, I would now add:

  • Perspective. When people say how horrible bedrest must be, I know they are wrong — because I know what the alternatives are. Bedrest is downright fun compared to being in the middle of IVF #3 (or more likely, #4 by now). As for the other direction, I have taken the mantra, “Every day on bedrest is a day not spent in the NICU” (or worse) to heart. I whine more often than my husband would like (“But I neeeeeed cake”) but in the grand scheme, I am the opposite of a whiner. I know how good I have it.
  • These particular babies. I have heard many parents after  infertility say it, but I didn’t quite get it before. If I had conceived easily, sure, I would have a kid (about to enter first or second grade!),  but I wouldn’t have these kids. I haven’t even met them yet, and already I love them so much.
  • Seeing the world. During the period of my infertility I have travelled to 20 new countries, some more than once (and seen more of the three that I’d already visited prior). If I’d had a child, I would never have travelled nearly so much — or maybe at all.
  • Encouraging my children to see the world. Because of the prior point, we now have all sorts of plans to show our children the world that we never would’ve had before. And, since we (as long as these babies come into this world okay, knock on wood) won’t have to spend our money on infertility treatments anymore, we may actually be able to afford to take them somewhere.
  • The chance to know, really know, my relationship with my husband, and to keep improving it. We had been married more than four years before we started trying to conceive, and together several years before that, but even so, we have grown together so much since then. I honestly feel sorry for many people I know who have a child early in their relationship/marriage, especially when that relationship later dissolves and I can see ways in which the child stressed a situation that didn’t have a chance to develop a strong foundation. Although infertility has put plenty of stress on us and on our relationship, we and we are ultimately stronger for it. You certainly can never say that we didn’t have a chance to develop a strong foundation — we have had more chances than anyone could possibly need.

Oh, and to revise my answer to the question I asked a year ago:

Would I trade the past six and a half seven years of infertility heartache for a kindergarten-age child first-grader?

I said yes a year ago, but now, no. I don’t think I would anymore. I guess that qualifies as growth.

How has infertility improved your life? There must be something.

If your situation is loss instead of infertility, you may not be able to come up with an answer. If that’s the case, please say so. If you do have an answer, then you must be a truly Thoughtful person.

Show and TellSorry that I couldn’t post last week to show you the prizes won by the winners of my Blogoversary Contest. Turns out that being horizontal is not conducive to climbing stairs, fetching cameras, photographing pottery, etc.

1st Prize which will be sent to Birdless whenever I can manage to put the package together and send my husband to the post office (she preferred a blue-ish bowl over the prize I’d originally planned). It’s cereal-sized — unless you’re my husband, in which case you’d need a bigger bowl for cereal. Hopefully Birdless eats normal portions of cereal; or, she can eat whatever she wants in it. The inside swirl was done with glaze; the pattern around the rim is carved into the clay when it’s leather-hard using the wheel and — get this — a pencil. That pattern at the rim is a bit of a trademark for me (almost all of the bowls in my house have that pattern). Thanks to the swirl, this is one of the bolder pieces I’ve made:


2nd Prize for Lori. Yes, those are L’s for Lori (or for Lavender Luz if you prefer). The L’s go all around the cup in a decorative pattern. I was experimenting with wax resist.

I won’t be making any more pottery for a loooong time, so in future Show and Tells I’ll keep showing you some of the pieces I made in this last batch as well as various non-pottery things. Next week: A resolution to my episode of Zen non-attachment, my very first Show and Tell from over a year ago.

See what the rest of Miss Lollipop’s class has to offer for Show and Tell.

27w1d: Bedrest Follies

August 19, 2009

Preface: I had to reschedule my MFM cervix check, because I slept through the appointment. The 1 p.m. appointment.

Boo: Cervix shortened a little more, to 1.8 cm.

Enh: MFM is not alarmed.

Yay: I don’t have to lie totally on my side all the time. Sometimes I can lie partly on my back, as long as I’m propped up and at a 20 degree angle minimum.

MFM isn’t letting me go anywhere (including birth classes) or sit up for more than 15 minutes at a time. I pointed out to her that the expectations for my 3-hour glucose tolerance test contradict her instructions, since I’ll be required to sit in a waiting room chair for 3 hours. MFM said to ask the OB how we can do the test with me lying down during the waits. I called the OB’s office, and they said this is the first time that anyone has had an issue doing the 3-hour test during bedrest. Really?!? They deliver hundreds of babies a year, and I’m the first one?

Then the nurse consulted the OB and reported to me, “Just do the test as planned. It’s fine.” No, it’s not fine. If they’re not going to help me, I’ll work something out. So, if anyone walks into a blood lab and you see a pregnant lady lying on the floor at a 20 degree angle, you’ll know who it is.

In other news, particularly amusing in light of our discussion of Moose, I received the “diet” I’m supposed to follow for 3 days before my glucose tolerance test. I’m supposed to eat lots of carbs all the time, and in addition to my normal amount of food every day, add:

  • 1 can non-diet soda
  • 2 extra pieces of bread
  • piece of cake
  • candy bar

I think they need to invent a new word, because that is no diet.

Barren Bitches Book Brigade Welcome to the Barren Bitches Book Brigade, featuring Moose by Stephanie Klein.

I wasn’t a fat kid; I was a not-skinny kid. The start of puberty was not kind to me (was it kind to anyone?), and my 8th grade yearbook picture crosses the line into chunky territory, but generally others perceived me as “normal.” However, I was often the heaviest girl around, especially because I was involved in all sorts of activities that encourage extreme thinness, like dance, gymnastics, and figure skating. Once, a skating coach said to me, “I think it’s good that you’re healthy, not so skinny like all these other girls.” And that was in the late 80s, when standards for thin were much less emaciated than today.

Still, most girls were skinny, and I was not skinny. So in my mind, I’ve always been a fat girl. I couldn’t trade clothes with other girls. I was self-conscious about wearing shorts. I consumed SlimFast — not as meal replacement shakes, but as raw powder out of the can (just like I ate Nestle Quik, Ovaltine, hot chocolate mix…).

The very first time I ever thought that I might not be a fat girl after all, I was in my mid-20s. My best friend from grad school (who, I must note, is a size 0) was talking about a woman who was a couple years ahead of me in our program. That woman is pear-shaped to the extreme: top half average, bottom half obese. My friend was explaining how the woman’s weight had grown over the past few years and said, “When she started grad school, she was normal. Like me or you.”

What?!? My size 0 friend and I (size 12-ish, consisting mostly of breasts, plus some extra tummy) were not comparable. I was closer to our pear-shaped classmate, wasn’t I? Wasn’t I?

Reading Moose has confirmed that I am closer in spirit to my size 0 friend (who maintained the 0 through Weight Watchers, having been a “heavy” size 4 before) than to the pear-shaped classmates and Mooses of the world. Many of the emotions Klein describes resonate with my adolescent self, but the desperation she describes for food is totally foreign to me. Anyone could be normal-sized with my take-it-or-leave-it desire for food, just like no one would have a drinking problem if they were as nonchalant about alcohol’s effects as I am. But, faced with what she describes as a true addiction to food, overeating and obesity seem almost like destiny.

Aside from the weight issues, I most enjoyed Moose for three things:

  1. The seamless way she integrates the main narrative with older and newer memories.
  2. The description of early adolescent sexuality, solo and partnered. Even if her desire for sex, like her desire for food, was more extreme than my own, it’s the truest depiction of young girls’ unspoken fascination with sex that I’ve ever seen.
  3. The disingenuity of adolescent emotional expressions, particularly when she starts a big fight with Adam then admits that it was all a show. I’ve seen it so many times, mostly in others but occasionally in myself: acting out a script of the way people supposedly act, as depicted in teen movies, sitcoms, books… One of my sisters-in-law, whom I have previously described as a sociopath, has done this throughout her adolescence. She punches DH on the arm because that’s what little sisters do to big brothers. When she’s away, she talks about how much she misses her friends several times a day, because that’s what people with friends are supposed to do. She temporarily breaks up with boys over minor issues because that’s what teenage relationships are right, or so she’s seen on TV. I never know when she’s feeling real emotion and when she’s acting out a scene from an after school special.

In the first chapter, Klein talks about her reluctance to gain weight during her twin pregnancy as a result of her childhood obesity. How have body image issues affected you during infertility? Pregnancy? Post-pregnancy?
During infertility treatments, FSH injections made my tummy, which has always been out of proportion with the rest of my body, bigger. The scale didn’t reflect it, but my pants were tighter and there was clearly more padding in my lower abdomen. Because I started out not-skinny, no one ever said anything and I don’t know if anyone even noticed, but I didn’t appreciate the side effect — especially when no babies were resulting from the treatments.

But, when I would pass myself in a mirror or the reflection on a window, I’d often pause and imagine my midsection much bigger from pregnancy. Finally I would have an excuse to have a big tummy! I was ready to embrace having an enormous belly, if it came with a baby inside.

Since being pregnant with twins, I’ve actually struggled to gain more weight — not a problem I ever fathomed having. Heartily convinced by the twin books that weight gain is key to preventing premature birth, I have been eating the most fattening foods I can, every couple of hours, for months — and I can barely keep up. Between being a vegetarian and having strong food aversions in the first four months to anything that might help me gain weight (particularly sweets and fatty foods), it has required enormous effort to keep up with the babies’ nutritional needs and put on the amount of weight recommended for a healthy twin pregnancy.

I haven’t stopped catching my reflection in mirrors and windows — in fact, I do it constantly now. It’s vain, really. I am so enamored with my growing belly, stretch marks and all, just as I am enamored with all that’s going on inside. Part of my joy comes from the years of infertility and finally achieving what eluded me for so long. But really, part of it is that I’ve never looked better. Later, I’ll go back to having a big blah tummy, but for now I have a big beautiful tummy!

Stephanie describes how she would picture herself slim, and how that image did not look like her at all. Did you/do you picture yourself slim and if so who do you model yourself on? Are you realistic when you imagine the slim you or do you picture someone you could never be like?
The imaginary slim Me isn’t that different from the normal version of Me wearing the right clothes, such as tailored suits. I don’t think I’ve ever, since puberty, been as slim as the imaginary Me (nor as slim as the BMI charts say I should… but BMI is bogus anyway), but ultimately I don’t know if that imaginary Me is something I even want. There was a point in my early 20s when I thought seriously about how I should approach my weight. I could work out more and watch what I ate, or I could do what I wanted and be satisfied with myself. I have chose and have stuck to the latter, in large part as a conscious feminist decision not to accept poor self-esteem as a way of life.

Stephanie Klein writes “Years later I’d feel slightly superior because I’d once been fat. That’s the thing…when asked if I’d change my past if I could, I think for a moment and always answer no. There’s something…that just makes it mildly worth it. Because a sensitivity is tattooed on a part of you no one else can see but can somehow guess is there. It’s always with you.” How do you relate to this with regards to infertility?

I do feel secretly superior for having gone through this long journey, as if I will truly love my children more than those who conceived easily. I can’t judge whether that’s really accurate (and I know that lots of fertile women — but not all — love their children plenty). I do know that infertility has made me more sensitive to all sorts of difficulties that others encounter, in family-building and in other aspects of life. I can’t say whether I’m a better person than anyone else, but I’m a better person than I was before.

Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens. You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: It Sucked, And Then I Cried by Heather Armstrong (aka Dooce).

I wondered what the next super-higher-order multiple birth might be. Would someone top 8? Ever get to 9? 10? Would anyone ever be “eating for 12” as DH and I joked when my own betas were sky-high? Now I have an answer.

At least the woman pregnant with 12 babies is in Tunisia and the media coverage might not be as crazy as it has been for Octomom (or Octomum as the Brits apparently call her).

Stop giving the rest of us a bad name!