Or, if you prefer They Might Be Giants to Alice in Wonderland, “It’s not my birthday, it’s not today!”

Last night was quite a night. I finally understand the contractions that people always talk about; all of my others have been silent or at least painless. This time they were 3-4 minutes apart for hours, and painful. If I consider them painful, that’s saying a lot — the doc estimates that my 5 out of 10 pain rating might be someone else’s 10 out of 10. My bizarrely high pain tolerance is sometimes unhelpful (as when I didn’t feel any contractions at all at 28w), sometimes handy. “Do you want pain medication for the contractions? We can give you the medication we give to women in labor.” Naah, 6 out of 10 pain I can take. The pill pushers (and IV pushers) don’t know what to do with me.

Somehow, despite many hours of full-blown contractions last night, my cervix stayed at 5 cm. And eventually the mag kicked in, and the contractions have stopped.

My reaction to the drugs is also blowing minds around here. With my first mag experience at 28w, I had plenty of side effects, but fewer than average. This time, almost nothing. It’s having the desired effect, but so far not the usual side effects. Vastly preferable to my reaction to fertility medications, where the desired effect was on the low side (except for Infamous IUI #7 in which I had enough follicles to set new world records for higher-order multiples) but I had plenty of bitchy side effects. All of the good and none of the bad on mag? Am I being punked?

The head perinatologist doesn’t think I’ll give birth today, or even tomorrow. I’ll stay on the mag for two more days, long enough for this round of steroids (first was at 28w when I was originally admitted) to take full effect, and then we’ll see what happens. If my cervix resumes dilating during or after the mag, we’ll just deliver.

Know what that means?

October! T minus 4 hours and counting.

In my mind, the plan to stay on mag for a couple of days is the doctors’ secret plot to get me to October. Of course I know it’s not, and DH thinks I’m obsessed with October, but a girl’s gotta have goals.

No matter how long it takes (very likely this week, but maybe at 34w, probably not beyond), I’m definitely having the babies here in this big hospital (>1 hour from home) instead of at the little hospital 15 minutes from the house. Now that I’m this far dilated, they won’t release me, and my regular OB won’t take me back! I feel more confident about the care for myself and especially the babies here, with a proper NICU and high-risk OBs/MFMs on the premises 24/7 for whom my case is no big deal rather than frightening.

As my bloggy friend Carrie (30.5w along with triplets) has been saying since August, “October or Bust!” At the risk of jinxing us, it looks like we made it!

Now I have to come up with a new goal. How about “as long as possible”? Or “any day that’s not today”?


33w: Milestones

September 29, 2009

When I was admitted to the hospital five weeks ago, I had a series of milestones in my mind that I wanted to achieve before giving birth.

Not August? Check.

DH’s birthday? Check.

Autumn? Check.

The Jewish New Year of 5770? Check.

Past the Days of Awe and Yom Kippur? Check. (Bedrest and hospitalization did not allow for Tashlich, so last year’s will have to do).

October? Hmm…

I’m back in the hospital at 33w. 5 cm dilated, having more contractions. Can these babies wait another 26 hours until October? I’ll let you know either way.

I’m not afraid for their health anymore. But I’m a little freaked out that after all these years, I’m finally going to meet my babies.

Put To The Test

September 29, 2009

[Pregnancy update for those who have been concerned due to my silence over the past few days: 33 weeks today. Still at home for now. As of yesterday, cervix dilating a bit more and Baby A’s head apparently can be felt through the cervix, so I have no idea whether birth is imminent, whether I’ll be back in the hospital tomorrow, or whether I’ll be able to come home after I see the perinatologist. I will post something in the evening so that I don’t leave anyone anxious with suspense.]

A year ago I wrote about an old friend of mine, one who is likely to struggle with infertility due to her medical history. I also wrote about how we’re no longer close enough for me to bring up such topics.

Today, after almost a year since our last contact, she emailed me, asking if anything was new.

Obviously, being 33 weeks pregnant with twins qualifies as news.

Here is my chance to practice what infertiles preach: the art of the gentle pregnancy announcement.

  1. Do I just tell her about the impending babies, and that’s that?
  2. Do I tell her about the babies with a subtle hint about the length of time we’ve been waiting, leaving the door open for her if she wants to talk about IF?
  3. Do I flat-out tell her how these babies came to be, and extend the hand of infertile friendship?

1 or 2 would be my natural inclination, but I wonder if the situation calls for 3.

What would you do if you were me? That is, what would you do if you were generally secretive and taciturn, but also trying to be caring and helpful to someone who was your close friend more than a decade ago but is now a very casual acquaintance?

Thoughtful ThursdayOver a year ago, Mel wrote a BlogHer post on the topic of purchasing baby items during post-infertility pregnancy. Many fertiles seem to run out and create a registry before the pee stick is dry. A lot of infertiles, on the other hand, are too fearful of something going wrong to make purchases, especially if they’ve experienced prior losses. In the comment section of Mel’s BlogHer post, Lori had a turn of phrase that I particularly liked: “Don’t buy until you see the whites of their eyes.” She didn’t buy anything at all until after the birth of her daughter.

Here is the progression of my thinking about buying baby items during pregnancy.

  • Too early
  • Too early
  • Too early
  • Hmm better start thinking about it; I’ll make a registry but I won’t show it to anyone
  • I’ll get a few things but it’s still too early to make major purchases
  • Let’s see what other people give us
  • Eek! I almost went into labor and we have none of the essentials!
  • I can’t very well buy things when I’m afraid of losing one or both babies
  • We’ve passed the danger zone, I guess we’d better get moving and stock up
  • What am I waiting for?

…which brings me to now. I actually might have put off major purchases even longer, but during the drive home from the hospital on Tuesday, DH declared, “The registry. We need to get going, now.”

I had basically nothing whatsoever for the babies (if you don’t count a couple of things I bought in Spain right after the first BFP like a mobile and a rattle) until the 4th month of pregnancy. I visited a Mothers of Multiples sale (just to scope it out) and bought a few clothes and a few toys at low low prices, but nothing big.

During the 5th month of pregnancy, I visited a close friend who is parenting twins after infertility. She gave me all sorts of hand-me-downs, mostly clothes. Suddenly I had full wardrobes for the babies’ first 6 months and partial wardrobes for the next 6 months.

Then I visited my mother-in-law, who heaped all sorts of garage sale purchases upon us. We rejected about half of what she bought, and we still filled up our entire car trunk and back seat.

Then came a CraigsList phase. I checked the listings many times a day. Via 4 transactions, I filled out the rest of the babies’ wardrobes for their first year, plus a few bigger purchases like swings and slings.

Suddenly the babies’ room, my home office (which essentially serves as a big filing cabinet), and the linen closet were filled with brightly colored plastic and cozy cotton. But still, I didn’t have essential items like cribs or car seats.

It was a little embarrassing when, on the day of my big preterm labor scare, both hospitals asked if I was “prepared” for the babies and I had to say no. Not that embarrassment was my biggest concern that day.

My fear-based procrastination was vindicated somewhat when I met with a neonatologist. He commended us for not having car seats yet, because we don’t know how much the babies will weigh and many seats are too big for preemies to leave the hospital. He told us not to buy car seats until the babies are born. We will probably buy them once the babies’ weights pass the minimum size for those car seats, hopefully in a couple of weeks.

Now, at DH’s insistence, the wheels are in motion. Apparently these babies really are coming, and with (most likely) less than a month to go, I’d better get ready. Family members have started picking items off the registry, and soon the babies’ room will be bursting with paraphernalia. Any procrastination on my part at this point is based on bedrest fatigue, not fear.

Does infertility/loss affect your attitude toward preparing for a baby’s arrival?

26w0d: Turned on a Dime

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!


August 10, 2009

Conversation with random lady (I was buying some used baby gear from her via Craigslist):

Lady: Twins, how wonderful! You must have been so surprised to find out you were having twins!

Let’s stop here. The socially appropriate response would have been, “Oh yes!” A fairly appropriate but still honest response would have been, “Kind of.” Neither of those was my response. At the time I found out there were two embryos, based on the betas we were thinking there might be record-breaking higher order multiples. We were not surprised by seeing two; we were relieved that there were only two.

Me: Surprised? No, not really.
Lady: (awkward silence) Yeah, well, twins are great… (wanders off)

Even without actually mentioning infertility, the mere hint of it sends people running away.

At least she didn’t ask if twins run in my family.

24w0d: Milestones

July 28, 2009

There are all sorts of milestones that infertiles and babylost mamas mark (celebrate? cling to? white-knuckle their way to?). Milestones that regular fertile pregnant women don’t even know exist. While they’re counting months or trimesters, we’re marking a different set of dates.

  • ~5 days past ovulation: implantation, hopefully
  • ~9 days past ovulation: HGC may be detected by the more sensitive urine pregnancy tests (unless implantation was late, oh please G-d let the negative be because of late implantation and not what it always is)
  • ~3 weeks past ovulation: gestational sac can be detected by ultrasound
  • ~3.5 weeks past ovulation: fetal pole can be detected by ultrasound
  • 4-5 weeks past ovulation: heartbeat can be detected by ultrasound

Up until this point, many regular pregnant women don’t know they’re pregnant. We already have baby photos.

  • 8-10 weeks gestational age: heartbeat can be detected by doppler, meaning that those who get a doppler for home use can listen as often as they like to confirm that their baby is still alive
  • 18-20 weeks gestation: quickening, or feeling fetal movement, meaning that there are periodic indications from the baby saying, “Hey, I’m still alive! And I don’t care for orange juice!”

From here, some infertile pregnant women relax. But some, especially those who have higher risk pregnancies, have histories of loss, or worry a lot, keep on counting.

  • 20 weeks gestation: theoretically the halfway point of pregnancy, but for those of us who aren’t expected to make it to 40 weeks, the point at which people tell us it’s halfway and we make a face; also, depending on who you ask, the transition point between miscarriage and stillbirth
  • 22 weeks gestation: the cusp of viability, or the time at which a baby born can have a chance of life (only actually achieved by a few of those record-setting babies); this isn’t one that I’ve heard other bloggers talk about, but it’s one that I’ve had in my mind all along… I thought I’d feel better when I reached 22 weeks, but I didn’t
  • 24 weeks gestation: viability, or rather, the time at which a baby born will have a 50/50 shot at living
  • 28 weeks gestation: survival quite likely
  • 34 weeks gestation: if born, lungs may be developed enough to function without major intervention
  • 38 weeks gestation: full term for singletons; for many of us, a shangri-la

Regular pregnant women may be counting the days until they can get that baby out of their body (and meet their child), but we are trying to keep them in as long as possible, one day at a time.

My bloggy friend Carrie, who is pregnant with triplets (from a two-embryo transfer), has made a countdown calendar to 24 weeks. The dates of her own milestones are burned into her brain.

I always know the exact count for the current day. I get strange looks when people ask how far along I am and instead of “5 months” they get answers like “23 weeks 3 days!” But unlike Carrie, I can’t tell you the dates of any future milestones without consulting the calendar. All I know is today. There are no guarantees tomorrow, but today, things are okay. 

Some of those milestones shouldn’t be as big a deal as they are to me, because they are still pretty bleak — and also, there’s no reason at this point to believe that we won’t make it all the way (or as close to all the way as twins tend to go). But still, the milestones matter. Today I am 24 weeks, and that matters a lot. As much time as I may spend worrying about tomorrow, and a hundred tomorrows after that, for today, this is enough.