Thoughtful ThursdayBy nature I am a detail-oriented person, and I take a lot of care with every kind of detail. I am well aware that not everyone else is so concerned with precision. When other people make an error, sometimes I can be quite a stickler, and sometimes I let things go. Strangely, the issues that get to me the most aren’t necessarily the ones that matter the most. Here are some examples.

Perpetual stickler:

  • My name. My real name is impossible to spell and pronounce, and I have spent far too much of my life correcting people. The only times I let people use the wrong name are when I’m about to never see them again, as when my order is ready at Starbucks. Otherwise, I just can’t let it go. When I first met DH, he mangled my name, and I was so intent on correcting him that he thought I couldn’t stand him, and our relationship almost never got off the ground. Good thing we worked that out.
  • Misinformation. Especially as it pertains to my profession, there are issues that I just can’t let slide when I hear someone say something horribly wrong. I try not to be bossy and know-it-all, really I do, but sometimes I can’t help myself.


  • In the hospital both pre- and postnatally, the babies’ conception came up frequently. Quite a few times, a health care worker stated that the babies were conceived through IVF rather than IUI. Sometimes I was careful to correct them, when it seemed like the misinformation might make its way into the chart or otherwise stick around. Other times, especially when it was one practitioner talking to another rather than to me, I bit my tongue.
  • Also on the topic of fertility, sometimes I hear people say outlandish things about infertility problems and treatments. Sometimes I feel the need to educate them, and sometimes I shrug and move on.
  • The name of this blog. There is no “the” in the name. As I explained when I first started blogging, the blog name is a line in a Radiohead song. I realize that it doesn’t look quite right unless you know the song. I’ve seen lots of people add a “the” in their blogrolls, links to my blog on their blogs, etc. Occasionally I send someone an email with a friendly correction, but usually I don’t say anything because I don’t want to go around the blogosphere bossing people around. (But, if you have the name written wrong somewhere on your blog and now you would like to correct it, that would be lovely.)
  • “Are these your first?” As in, “Is this your first pregnancy?” or, other times, “Are these your first children?” To health care workers, I carefully explain my two miscarriages. To everyone else, I evade the pregnancy part of the question and simply say that these are my first children.


  • Tamale’s name. Burrito’s name, like the word burrito itself, is rarely mispronounced or misspelled. Tamale’s name, like the word tamale, has a few potential proper pronunciations (such as ta-MAH-lay and ta-MOLLY…) and many more mispronunciations (TA-muh-lay, TA-mail, ta-MAIL…). When I chose her actual name long ago, I had no idea that people would consider it as exotic as they do, and I had no idea that anyone would think to pronounce it any way other than the “right” way. Already in her short life, I have heard an incredible number of guesses as to the pronunciation. So far, I have been saying it properly to each person once, and then letting any subsequent mispronunciations go. As she grows up, I don’t want her to have the same visceral reaction to hearing her name misspoken that I do for my name, and I don’t want her to have to waste so much effort making people get it right. So what if a restaurant hostess or substitute teacher doesn’t say it right? I certainly don’t want her to be such a stickler about her name that she risks shooing away her future husband like I almost did. Some things are more important than the details being exactly right.

When are you a stickler? When do you let things go?

Thoughtful Thursday: Partner

October 22, 2009

Thoughtful ThursdayAs I mentioned in last week’s BBBB post, one of the biggest surprises since the Burrito and the Tamale were born has been the changes I’ve seen in their father.

Normally, DH is a highly emotional guy — mostly when it comes to unimportant things. When he watches sports on TV, his yelling has been known to send pets and neighbors running for cover. He shows uncommon enthusiasm in response to new flavors of ice cream and sunny days. Don’t even get me started on what happens when he sees a puppy.

In terms of negative emotion, he is usually very even-keeled. He gets worked up over abstract issues like government encroachment on civil liberties, but if something unpleasant happens to him personally, it’s like water off a duck’s back.

He is fiercely loyal and effusive when it comes to me and his friends, but less so with family.

His high levels of energy and emotion have made it all the more bizarre that over 7 years of infertility, he was almost always calm to the point of being blasé. He’d get riled up about the money or about minor inconveniences, but the big picture didn’t seem to bother him the way that it got to me. There were hints, but, like the physical toll of the treatments, most of the emotional toll seemed to fall on me.

During the pregnancy, he was phenomenal as far as helping me during the months of 1st trimester immobility and 3rd trimester home and hospital bedrest. But, when it came to the babies, I was disappointed at his lack of enthusiasm. The correct response to, “Do you want to feel the baby kick?” is “Yes!” Instead, he often answered, “I guess,” or even, “No thanks, not right now.” Instead of cooing at cute baby items, he questioned the cost. During every minute of each ultrasound my eyes were as wide as a kid’s on Christmas morning. Being in a dark room for an hour made DH sleepy.

I didn’t question what kind of father he’d be nor the kind of husband he’s been all along, but, during a supposedly happy time for which we’d worked so long and so hard, I found his reactions (or lack thereof) disheartening.

And then the babies were born, and all of the emotion burst out. Not the screaming-at-the-TV emotion, but the sweet, joyful, loving emotion that I fell in love with, a decade and a half ago. He marveled at the Tamale’s resemblance to me, chuckled at the Burrito’s antics, told them sweetly about the cat waiting for them at home, made up songs to sing to them in the NICU.

When I pointed out the contrast between his pre- and post-birth reactions to the babies, DH said, “We weren’t counting our chickens before they hatched. I didn’t want to get too attached. Now they are here, and I can love them.”

When I pointed out the contrast between his effusive reaction to the babies and his stoicism during infertility, he said, “Infertility was depressing! If I’d showed emotion then, it would only have been bad emotions.”

7.5 years of DH’s guarded emotions during IF and pregnancy in exchange for singing and dancing through the house for the next couple of decades? Not a bargain I expected to make, but I’ll take it.

How has your partner reacted to infertility/loss? Is this consistent with your partner’s typical style of emotional expression?

Show and Tell: Delegation

October 21, 2009

Show and Tell

Goodbye NICU and hospital that I’ve inhabited since August; hello home!

For Show and Tell, I present the delegation that showed up to welcome the babies to our home:
A doe and twin fawns.

See what else Miss Lollipop’s class has to Show and Tell.

Thoughtful Thursday: Emotion

October 15, 2009

Quick health/baby update before we begin Thoughtful Thursday: I am feeling better and better every day; the percentage of the day in which I feel Human has gone from 0% for several days post-birth to 80% today. The Burrito and The Tamale are developing incredibly well — so well that we’ve been discussing discharge with the NICU team. Looks like just a few days until they come home!

Thoughtful ThursdayToday’s topic follows from a question I submitted (and then subsequently answered myself) for this week’s Barren Bitches Book Brigade on It Sucked and Then I Cried by Heather B. Armstrong of Since only a few people participated in the book club, I’d like to open the topic up for discussion more broadly.

On your blog, how much emotion do you express? Is that more or less emotion than you tend to express in real life?

From my BBBB post:

In real life, I am very guarded with emotional expression. On BabySmiling, I am considerably more expressive.

For years I have enjoyed Dooce’s monthly newsletters about her daughter. They combine snapshots of Leta’s growth, snarky humor, and pure love. I think that I will be comfortable expressing emotion directly to my children, but it feels strange to think of writing emotional public newsletters under my real name for friends and family (and strangers) to read. Do I save the emotion for BabySmiling, even though it goes against the mandate of the blog as an infertility blog? Do I write the letters privately? Do I remain guarded and let the emotions go undocumented? Probably not the latter, but I’m still figuring this one out.

To elaborate on what I wrote earlier this week…

I have never felt more emotion than in the past couple of weeks. Part of it is attributable to fluctuating hormones, sure. Some is attributable to having babies, the same as anyone. But a big part has to do with the realization of 7 years of infertility plus months of more-difficult-than-usual pregnancy. I am so filled with love, but there’s also a good measure of disbelief, overwhelming retrospective sorrow, hope, worry, wonder… And there you go. I am expressing emotion here on this blog. Emotions which most likely will never be expressed anywhere else, certainly not in writing.

I just don’t see myself writing gushy love letters to my babies under real name for my friends and — gah — family to see. But I am feeling that gushy love, so where do I put it? Here, where I never set out to mommyblog? Some sort of BabySmiling annex? Privately, for only my babies to see someday? I didn’t have an answer on Tuesday during BBBB, and I don’t have one today.

On your blog, how much emotion do you express? Is that more or less emotion than you tend to express in real life?

Barren Bitches Book BrigadeWelcome to the Barren Bitches Book Brigade, featuring It Sucked, and Then I Cried by Heather Armstrong of

(Note: pregnancy and children mentioned.)

If you are in a relationship right now, do you relate to how Heather talks about her husband, Jon, and what a great father and life partner he is? From what she described about Jon, what qualities do you have or want in your life partner?
I truly have the best husband ever, in a thousand ways that I don’t currently have the mental wherewithal to enumerate.

Here is an exchange we had today which illustrates why he is so fantastic. Before this conversation, I was very grumpy from spending the day with an unpleasant NICU nurse plus physical pain.

DH, cheerfully: The babies would have been 35 weeks today.
Me, zombie-like: Oh, I forgot it’s Tuesday. Tuesday used to be the special day. Now Saturday is the special day, because they were born on a Saturday.
DH, almost jumping up and down with enthusiasm: Now that we have babies, every day is the special day!

And then I burst out crying. And then he hugged me, while driving.

I have only watched him as a father for a week and a half, but already he has surprised me so much, all in good ways. I need to write a separate post about the changes I have seen in him — stay tuned.

Heather obviously has a very distinctive writing style that comes across in both her blog and her book. What do you think has made Heather such a famous blogger? Her writing style, honesty, or something else? Do you write with the same passion and honesty that Heather does?

Dooce is many things to many people. My husband mostly cares about the pictures of Chuck and Coco, her dogs. I often enjoy her Daily Style feature and her photography, but the big draws for me are her humor and her posts about parenting. Our personalities are clearly very different, but I think I write with as much passion and honesty as I have to give.

If you had postpartum depression to the degree Heather describes, would you have the courage to check yourself into a psychiatric ward? (It’s hard to say when it’s not actually happening in your own life, but I’d be curious to know if there are some people who are completely against it, some who would do it if they felt there was no other way, etc.)
I’d like to think so. I’d also like to think that I would nip it in the bud more, rather than letting the problem get that severe. In the past week and a half, when I’ve been more emotional than usual because of post-birth hormone changes, my husband has been quick to point out the contrast between that and my usual logical self. If I were to develop severe depression, the further I got from myself, the more I think he’d try to help me pull myself back in.

Heather Armstrong writes candidly and unapologetically about all aspects of her life – the good, the bad and the ugly. What, if anything, in your life that would you like to be as unapologetic about? What’s the first step you could take? What’s holding you back?
Infertility, of course. I’ve already taken the first step: since giving birth, I have straightforwardly explained the babies’ origins whenever anyone has asked whether twins run in the family (which is surprisingly often, given that I haven’t talked to anyone outside the hospital). Strangers are becoming easy, but telling the truth about infertility to friends and family is another hurdle entirely. I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever get over feeling like it’s just none of their business.

The author’s blog is well-known for her biting sense of humor, interspersed with expressions of deep emotion toward her children and husband. Although there was plenty of humor, I found the book to be much heavier on emotion than I expected based on reading her blog. On your own blog, how much emotion do you express? Is that more or less than you tend to express in real life?
This was one of the questions that I wrote. Heather Armstrong offers such an unusual combination of sarcasm and raw emotion. In real life, I am very guarded with emotional expression. On BabySmiling, I am considerably more expressive.

For years I have enjoyed Dooce’s monthly newsletters about her daughter. They combine snapshots of Leta’s growth, snarky humor, and pure love. I think that I will be comfortable expressing emotion directly to my children, but it feels strange to think of writing emotional public newsletters under my real name for friends and family (and strangers) to read. Do I save the emotion for BabySmiling, even though it goes against the mandate of the blog as an infertility blog? Do I write the letters privately? Do I remain guarded and let the emotions go undocumented? Probably not the latter, but I’m still figuring this one out.

Whatever I do, I certainly appreciate the precedent that Dooce has set, in terms of non-maudlin emotional expression as well as acknowledging the hard work of belonging to a family.

The author talks about how she imagined her future children before becoming pregnant:

When you’re childless and young and hopeful, you have this idea of what your children are going to be like, and you make mental notes when you see other kids in public. You say to yourself, “My kid will be cute like that,” or “My kid won’t ever throw a tantrum in public like that little demon.” I had always envisioned a sweet little princess who looked just like me sitting quietly in a high chair, her pressed velvet petticoat creased perfectly as she sat and waited to be handed things in a timely manner. And then you grow up and have kids and realize that YOU HAVE NO SAY…

Before starting to try to conceive, how did you imagine your future children? If you now have children, how did your expectations fit reality?
This was the other question that I contributed. When I wrote it I had not yet given birth, and now I have. I don’t know much about my babies yet, but I certainly know more than I knew a couple of weeks ago. I really had no idea how they would look; it turns out that one of them looks so much like my husband, and one of them rather looks like me. One has hair color and features that I didn’t think could happen on a child of mine. One seems to have their father’s temperament, and one mine. Between looks and temperament, each of them has some of him and some of me. As for the rest of it, I’ll have to get back to you in a few years.

In terms of imaginings, I’ve mostly envisioned my children having the kinds of traits that would enable me to engage in activities like museums and world travel with them at a young age: intelligence, patience, curiosity, gentle demeanors. DH likes to say that it will depend on whether they are “his” children or “my” children. If they take after me as a child, by age 7 they will be leading the way through the Louvre, floor plan and guidebook in hand. If they take after him as a child, they will never make it inside the Louvre and instead will gather a crowd of Parisian children into impromptu game of tackle football in the Jardin des Tuileries. Hey, either way, Paris is Paris, right?

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: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.

Perfect Moment
Several perfect moments this week.

First, remember the construction workers who constantly dangled outside my hospital window? They have followed us upstairs to the NICU. My first reaction was, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” The hard part is remembering to close the blinds when I’m pumping or nursing. That, and blocking out the constant drilling and hammering. The babies couldn’t care less.

Second, another picture of the Burrito, nursing. I didn’t realize how much bigger my (already large) breasts had gotten until I saw this picture. No wonder none of my bras fit anymore. Of course, his head is rather small (30 cm. circumference), but c’mon, this is crazy. To keep the photo off random spam RSS feeds, you’ll need to click to see the photo (NSFW!).

Finally, the first real photo of the Tamale on the blog. She is waving hello to her bloggy friends.

Note: Here is the birth story people have been requesting. It also involves a major infertility turning point. And, it is very long — you may want to grab a snack and get comfortable.

So it looks like the magnesium did its job.

Recap: A week ago Tuesday, rehospitalized at 33w0d due to further cervical dilation (5cm). Given another course of steroid shots for the babies’ lungs, and put on mag to hold off labor until the steroids could take effect. Tuesday night, had lots of very strong contractions (up to 7/10 pain level, which is almost unheard of for me) 4 minutes apart, but cervix didn’t change further.

Wednesday, contractions slowed then stopped. No notable contractions or cervical change through Friday morning when mag was discontinued.

Friday morning, mag is stopped. Friday morning and afternoon, no contractions. Lower back, which has been hurting steadily for quite a while, starts hurting more.

Friday early evening, contractions resume. Not wanting to be deprived of food and drink for no reason, as I had been on Tuesday night for half a day, I decide to eat my dinner first then report contractions. The model patient rebels a bit. Hungry + thirsty + contractions = crankier than I intend to be.

I ate dinner, then reported the contractions. Monitor showed contractions 4 minutes apart. They weren’t as painful as those on Tuesday (more like 5/10 pain), but I definitely felt them. Cervix still at 5cm.

Throughout the past month+, DH had slept in my hospital room only the first night of each hospitalization, then visited during the day every 2 or 3 days. Most recently, he’d slept over on Tuesday night, left on Wednesday, then hadn’t returned until Friday night. He thought that the discontinuation of mag was as good a time to stay over as any, because I was at higher risk of delivering. This would be the first time he’d voluntarily slept in the hospital with me. He worked late on Friday and arrived well after dinner and the start of contractions. Because my cervix was unchanged, “contractions! come here right now” became “finish your work, see you later.”

He arrived, we hung out for a few hours, and we decided to go to bed around midnight. We wanted to watch a bit of TV before going to sleep. Halfway through the show, I had to pee.

I peed.

Then something else started coming out. Something pink. Something that was not urine.

The nurse and resident quickly concluded that it was amniotic fluid. Baby A’s water had broken. Fluid continued to trickle then flow then pause then trickle then flow over several hours — such a bizarre feeling. How much fluid could there possibly be in one amniotic sac?

Previously, the perinatologist had told me that further cervical dilation would buy me a quick c-section, but that breaking my water at 5cm dilation would buy me an even quicker c-section. Once my water had broken, urgent could become emergency very quickly. (Remember this part.)

DH packed up my room and we were whisked away to Labor and Delivery.

They said that the resident and attending were occupied with another birth, but that we’d deliver soon.

We waited.

My contractions got stronger and closer together.

We waited.

Stronger and closer together.

We waited. What the hell?

A second vaginal birth jumped the queue. Hmm, remember how my water breaking was supposed to constitute a near-emergency?

We waited. Both very sleepy, but it was no time to sleep.

Finally, with my contractions 2 minutes apart and extremely painful (no pain meds on board, some combination of my being a trooper and it being “any minute now”), the nurse announced that both births were finished. I didn’t get to the pushing part, but no one can ever say that my c-section didn’t involve full-blown labor. When contractions are 2 minutes apart, that means that it’s 2 minutes between the peak of each contraction. The respite between the end of one contraction and the start of the next was less than a minute. The limits of my iron pain tolerance were being tested and pushed to the limit.

Finally, it was time. I headed to the OR first for anesthesia while DH was asked to wait. The anesthesiology resident attempted to place the spinal in the midst of my almost constant contractions. Just sitting up in the right position was reeeeally difficult. I got seriously pissed when I heard the anesthesiology attending tell the resident, “You blew the space.” I remembered reading that nowadays, the dreaded spinal headaches are rare and usually only happen if they keep blowing the space and have to do multiple sticks. Luckily, the second try worked. If he had blown it a second time, I was prepared to tell the resident he was incompetent and should step aside. I was also prepared to tell him that I liked the other two anesthesia residents I’d met before much better, and that he was ugly.

With the spinal in place, they started to prep me, and I lost track of the dozen people in the room. I’d never met the OB attending before, but I knew the OB/MFM resident well.

Eventually DH joined us in his gown, shower cap, and mask. He is not the type to peek behind the curtain, but he could still see plenty.

More than 3 hours after my water broke, the babies emerged quite quickly. A, the boy, Burrito, came first. He had the most fabulous loud cry. They showed him to us, and he looked big and perfect. A real baby. A real baby! The neonatologists went to work on him, but not much was needed. From the first moment he was breathing room air and was just perfect.

B, the girl, Tamale, came two minutes later. Her cry was weaker. They bagged her, but she seemed to be doing okay. Also a real baby. We had two babies! All of my Dead Baby Thoughts had been unfounded, and all of the fears of severe prematurity at 26w and 28w had not come to fruition. They were alive, and apparently healthy, and so beautiful.

From my vantage point, I could see Burrito’s station very well, but couldn’t see Tamale. DH was able to see Tamale quite well, as well as some of what the doctors were doing to me. As the doctors started to work on putting me back together, I was so grateful to be distracted with views of Burrito and DH’s reports about Tamale. When I met with the neonatologist at 29w, he’d said that they might immediately whisk the babies away. The fact that the babies were still in the room seemed like a very good sign. It exquisitely seemed like forever, but was about 10 minutes, that I just watched the hustle and bustle and caught glimpses of my baby. DH, despite declaring years ahead of time that he wouldn’t feel comfortable, cut both of their cords. I was proud of him.

According to the time stamp on the photos, 13 minutes after Burrito’s birth, they brought him over to me to look at and touch for a few moments — longer than I was expecting. Was this really my baby? I knew they hadn’t smuggled any babies into the OR, and there were witnesses who saw these babies come out of me, so they must be mine. After I touched and kissed Burrito, DH held him for a minute. They said that Tamale wasn’t ready to be held, but that we could see her soon in the NICU.

Meanwhile DH could see the activity level around my abdomen growing.

Here comes the part relevant to infertility.

The babies were still in the room and I was still wonderfully distracted when the OB attending interrupted. In a very calm but clear voice (thereby telling me that the situation was serious but that he was trying not to freak me out), he said:

BabySmiling, we need to talk about what’s going on. We’re trying to finish up, but it’s not going as planned. B’s placenta was what’s called accreta. Her placenta is attached very deeply to your uterus, and it is so deep that it even goes beyond the uterus. This is very rare, but it is more common with multiples. We have been trying to remove the placenta and control the bleeding, but it’s not working. We may need to do a hysterectomy. This would mean that you couldn’t have any more children. We will try everything we can, but right now it’s looking like we will need to remove your uterus. You will still have your ovaries, so you won’t go into menopause, but you won’t be able to have more children. You have also lost a lot of blood, so we will need to transfuse you.

Here is the golden moment when 7 years of infertility came to a head.

DH and I looked at each other. In one split second it felt like three things occurred as we made eye contact: taking in what the doctor said, asking the other’s opinion, and simultaneous agreement. It felt like we both shrugged with our eyes. Here is what went through my head.

  • Oh. Wow.
  • Hey, it’s like Abby on ER. She lost her uterus during childbirth too.
  • I guess this settles the conversation about having more babies.
  • It’s fine, I can live with that. At least we don’t have to use contraception, and I never have to wonder or take a pregnancy test or cry over a BFN.
  • This will make a really good blog post.
  • Huh, I bet most people would be really upset right now. Abby on ER was really upset, even though she didn’t want that baby in the first place. I’m fine with it.
  • DH looks fine with it.
  • Those pesky placentas! First A’s was previa, and now B’s is accreta.
  • Technically I could have more children via surrogacy, but I know what the doctor means.
  • No surrogacy, these two are enough.
  • Thank G-d the babies are okay. They both seem to be doing so well!
  • Little does he know, even if I have a uterus I probably can’t have more children.
  • I’m so glad the babies are still in the room for me to have something to watch while this goes on.
  • The doctor probably wants an answer.

The way it looked to everyone else: Doctor finishes speaking, DH and I look at each other, and we both say something to the effect of, “Whatever you need to do.”

The doctor said, “Thank you.” In my mind, the unspoken full sentence was, “Thank you for not freaking out like most people do, thank you for not making my job harder while I’m trying to do this, and thank you for not requiring me to convince you that this is the only way to save your life.”

My little distractions weren’t in the room long, and they soon went upstairs to the NICU.

The doctors kept working, and the anesthesiologists started getting really busy.

DH made a joke/offer about the transfusion being convenient because he is a universal donor, and rolled up his sleeve.

I asked him to tell me everything he remembered about the babies to keep me busy, and to show me the photos he’d taken.

DH, normally rather squeamish, was quite fascinated as the surgeons worked and told them as much. “This is so cool!” “From a medical standpoint, this is so interesting.” Usually I would be the one filled with intellectual curiosity for my own surgery. We weren’t entirely ourselves that day, in lots of ways.

DH didn’t tell me at the time because he didn’t want to alarm me, but there was a lot of blood. He later said that it seemed like an awful lot of blood, between the huge tub of suctioned blood and the giant puddle of blood on the floor that everyone kept having to step around. No one ever mentioned the word hemorrhage.

Later, DH asked how much blood I’d lost, because he thought he’d heard an amount mentioned but it couldn’t possibly be that much. They confirmed that he’d heard correctly. I had lost more than 6 units. My loss was 2/3 of the normal human blood volume, though because blood volume increases during pregnancy and even moreso during twin pregnancy my percentage was lower, closer to half of my total blood. That is still really a lot.

With a spinal, you don’t feel pain but you do feel “pressure.” The pressure got stronger. The way they were throwing my body parts around felt a lot like Thai massage.

Eventually the doctor said, “The bleeding is slowing down. We tried [a drug whose name I don’t remember] and it worked. We aren’t going to transfuse you right now, and it looks like we won’t need to do a hysterectomy.”

DH asked, “Is that drug commonly used for placenta accreta, or did you just try that drug on a whim?”

Everyone laughed.

As the doctors continued to work, they started talking to us more. Several times, DH or I made them laugh quite a bit. I don’t think either of us was trying to be funny.

The OB attending said that it was lucky that B had been breech and required a c-section. If I’d had a vaginal delivery, the bleeding would have been harder to control, they might not have had time to open me up, and I might have died.

After a while, they were done. With all the genuineness I could convey, as they were wheeling me to recovery, I told the doctor, “Thank you so much.” Thank you for saving an organ that I probably have no use for but would have missed, thank you for doing such an incredible job, thank you for saving my life.

As they wheeled me out of the OR, I started feeling pins and needles in my legs. This meant that the spinal was wearing off and they had finished surgery just in time. If it had taken longer or if they had needed to do the hysterectomy, they would have switched to general anesthesia.

Recovery did not go so well. It was supposed to be “an hour or two” but ended up being more than 3 hours — among other things, we had to wait for a shift change in the NICU then in the mother-baby unit. In my altered state, I had it in my mind that I shouldn’t go to sleep because I needed to be alert when they wheeled me to the NICU to glance at the babies. I really should have gone to sleep. I dozed off here and there, but mostly I lay there being agitated.

The nurse appeared periodically to tell me it wouldn’t be long (sound familiar?) then would disappear for far too long. During that time, they had a post-op conference to discuss my case. A Morbidity and Mortality meeting, without the morbidity or mortality. A “here is what went right with this crazy case” meeting.

I was also terribly thirsty even though I was hooked to an IV for hydration.

And I was itchy, so itchy, from the anesthesia.

Unprecedented sleepiness + agitation + impatience to see my babies + thirst + watching DH eat and drink + itchiness + not knowing how much longer + severe nausea + almost dying = a bad combination.

I remember so much about the birth, but the NICU trip is pretty hazy. I thought I’d just get wheeled by each isolette momentarily, the way that a tour bus pauses to look at a monument, but we stayed in each room longer than I’d expected. They told us that the babies were doing wonderfully. Tamale had disagreed with their recommendation for breathing assistance and had pulled out her tubes, so she was breathing room air like her brother by the time we saw them.

The next days were a weird combination of highs and lows. I’ve already talked about the contrast at Show and Tell earlier this week.

To preempt an inevitable question: They didn’t transfuse me because the preference in that hospital on that service is to avoid transfusion below a certain very high limit. I was actually kind of glad that they didn’t, because even screened blood carries a certain amount of risk, but dealing with that level of blood loss has made the recovery much more difficult.

My next post will have pictures of both babies, as well as some processing of the events I’ve just told you about. This post is long enough.

Birth details (in metric or disguised to reduce Google-ability):
Born one week ago exactly (on Sat.) around 3:30 a.m. at 33w4d
Burrito weighed 2.15 kg, Tamale weighed 2.25 kg
Burrito was 47 cm long, Tamale was 44 cm
APGARs 8 and 9 for both
Off the charts in terms of being loved

Thoughtful ThursdayToday’s Thoughtful Thursday topic can apply to any phase of the infertility/loss/adoption process, but I will focus on my own recent experiences of pregnancy and new parenthood after infertility.

To what extent is your blog a complete and accurate record of your life?

During infertility, I felt like Baby Smiling was my main outlet for truth. I flat-out lied to most people in real life about infertility. With others, I lied via omission. At best, I provided a few people with the partial truth. The people who were closest to us sometimes knew that we were doing treatments, but not the details, timing, nor outcomes. This is in stark contrast to blog readers, virtual strangers who have been kept up to date on the day-to-day details of treatments as well as my intimate emotions.

Of course, because this is an anonymous blog, there are certain details that I have left out, and I have disguised some details to preserve anonymity while keeping the same spirit.

During pregnancy, I’ve left a larger number of details out because I wanted to keep this an infertility blog rather than a pregnancy-after-infertility blog, but you’ve still been privy to far more of the details and emotions than real life friends and family.

But, some non-pregnancy/non-infertility issues have come up during the course of the pregnancy which have had a huge impact on my life. Some are in realms that I don’t discuss on this blog, such as work, but one major event in particular felt strange not to tell you about. It was one of the biggest events of my life, and I didn’t even hint at it.

Now, post-birth, I feel like I’m living dual lives. I will give readers of this blog a few photos and some basic information about the babies, as a thank you for following me through failed treatments, successful treatments, and pregnancy. But, you’ll never hear key details like the babies’ real names. My focus will continue to be on my own reproductive experience and infertility. As part of that, I’ll be giving you every detail of the birth story, which has major infertility implications. I’ll continue to view my life through the lens of infertility, and I’ll keep asking Thoughtful questions. Little will change on this blog — even though everything for me has changed.

As for the other half of my dual life: For people I know in real life, they are hearing every minute detail about the babies and receiving daily photos, but only a couple of close friends will get even the smallest hint at what I have gone through medically. We haven’t told family anything, and we don’t plan to.

Some of the silence about my experience concerns whose story it is to hear: our parents are entitled to know all about their grandchildren, but not about me. Some of the silence is about not dealing with people’s reactions. Some is leftover discretion from infertility.

And thus, there is no complete record. If you combine this blog with real life sources you get a pretty good sense, but there are only a couple of people in the world who get both versions.

Part of me feels funny for leaving you out of the loop with certain topics, and part of me knows that this is how it has to be.

For what it’s worth, even though it doesn’t come with as many cute pictures, I think you’re getting the more authentic version of me.

To what extent is your blog a complete and accurate record of your life?

Show and Tell: Views

October 7, 2009

Update: Using the burrito post as a springboard, I think I’ll call the babies The Burrito and The Tamale. Those names sound as good as any I was going to come up with, since I was going to use pseudonyms anyway. A, the Burrito boy, is a bundle of yumminess. B, the Tamale girl, is a little picante.

I am working on writing the birth story for you; there is so much to tell. Not much to tell with the babies except that they are doing incredibly unbelievably fantastic. After failing at the baby lottery for so many years, I have hit the jackpot. Slightly early but perfectly healthy babies, sweet and beautiful. More baby photos on the way soon so that you can see for yourself.

Although I may not feel like it, I have been deemed healthy enough to cease being a patient today. Instead of driving over an hour back and forth to my house, I am so fortunate to be able to bunk with The Burrito and The Tamale. All of a sudden I will go from spending no more than half an hour or an hour per day with them to the entire day. Because of my recovery process, motherhood has been a slow transition. The thought of being with them all the time, of holding them for more than a few minutes, overwhelms me with disbelief and love.

Show and TellYou may recall that the view from my hospital bedrest window offered a mix of construction workers and fireworks. The view from my postpartum window is quite different. It’s almost directly above my old room, but it’s 3 stories higher and on a hill, so it has a fabulous view of a city, bodies of water, and the changing foliage. By day:
Day View

By sunrise:
View Sunrise

And one that comes with a metaphor. On the day I took the following photo, the weather was all over the place. Every few minutes it would change from sunny to rainy to overcast to clear to stormy. This is what it has felt like to be me over the past few days. I have had such a difficult time physically, quite a switch from being the perpetual bedrest non-complainer with the iron pain tolerance. The babies have made it more than worthwhile, but even seeing them has taken a physical toll. I did not throw up even once during the entire pregnancy (months of nausea, but zero vomiting), but the first time I was about to hold my son, I was so queasy from the anesthesia, narcotics, and movement that I puked just as they were about to put him in my arms. It happened again on my next visit — not the welcome that he deserves. I’ve struggled to get to the NICU (with help, via wheelchair) twice a day, usually not for long, then paid a physical price the rest of the day. Most of the time my pain has been decently controlled, but sometimes it hasn’t. At times I have wept with pain; at other times I have been in so much pain that I wanted to scream but couldn’t make a sound. All of this, while being happier than I ever dreamed. The contrast between my emotional highs and physical lows is absolutely bizarre, and the postpartum hormones just serve to magnify everything.

Back to the weather metaphor. Just when you think it can’t rain any harder, the storm breaks. One minute the sky is black; the next minute there are two rainbows.
Double Rainbow

Forget about potato chips; two rainbows is quite an omen. I hear you, Universe. I will weather the storm, and we will all be okay. Together.

Perfect Moment
Burrito A
Burrito B

Sorry about disappearing for a couple of days. I’ve… uh… been busy.

Babies’ health is better than I could have imagined. They are big for their age and so precocious, impressing everyone with their breathing, feeding, alertness, sweet demeanors, and strength. I am desperately in love. I still can’t quite believe they are mine, and the whole process still blows my mind. Your tummy gets bigger and then fully-formed humans come out? Really?

During delivery I experienced some “complications” but I am now on the mend and I will be fine. When we were in the midst of the complications, making life-changing (and potentially life-threatening) decisions, part of my brain was thinking about what a good blog post it would make. I’ll tell you all about that, as well as give you a better picture of Burrito B and more details on both babies, very soon.

I’ve missed you!