Do twins run in your family?

September 30, 2013 § 29 Comments

Over the last few days, the Artsy Engineer and I have told our friends and a number of coworkers about our pregnancy. I cannot conceal my expanding stomach very well anymore, and we were riding the wave all of last week from the most incredible ultrasound I’ve ever had. I promise I will post about this ultrasound soon, but for now, I want to talk about people’s reactions to my pregnancy.

After ohmygodhowwonderful! the first thing out of everyone’s mouth has been, Do twins run in your family!??

Now, for some reason, I was not initially prepared for this at all. I guess I kind of assumed that people would be aware that infertility exists (WHAT? PEOPLE CAN’T GET PREGNANT?!!) and that they would, therefore, know that twins often means infertility and thus refrain from asking questions that would put me in a position to talk about my uterus.

I would have escaped this if I’d only had one in there, for sure. But no dice.

My response to this comment has surprised me, though. I have found it impossible to answer them with a simple little lie. Nope! Weird, right? would often be easier. But, as much as I want it to, that statement just won’t seem come out of my mouth.

See, I do not want to be one of those people who perpetuates the myth that everyone can knocked up. And the myth that getting pregnant means glitter and rainbows and fresh-smelling babies for all. I don’t want to contribute to the silence and the stigma. This may be a semi-anonymous blog, but that’s only because I’m a paranoid woman who watches too many crime reality shows (and by too many, I mean any), and I don’t want some weirdie to find me online and stalk me and cut me up into little pieces. (If you’re out there, weirdie, eff off. Cut up your own self.) It is not because I want to talk about my infertility without anyone actually knowing about my infertility.

But that doesn’t mean that I have, up until now, shouted my empty womb from the rooftops. It was no secret at work and among my friends that we wanted babies years ago. In fact, our voiced justification of our marriage after 7 years of living together in sin as “domestic partners” was that we figured we might as well make things easier on ourselves and do things in order. So when people started asking how it was going or when people mentioned babies, I told them. It sucks. It’s going shittily, actually. We’ve been trying for 18 months and I’ve had a miscarriage and it’s been expensive and black hole distracting and heartbreaking. I didn’t realize this, but apparently it happens to 1 in 8 of us, and I happen to be one of the lucky ones. But I’m fine. Really, I’m fine.

Now, my response to the twin question is similar. So. Do twins run the family?

Yes, they do actually. My husband’s great grandmother was one of three sets of twins born to his great great grandmother (and a member of the only set that survived), and his grandmother had twin siblings who died at childbirth. BUT, that’s not the side of the family that makes any difference genetically. It’s got to be on the woman’s side to have an impact. These particular twins are the result of fertility treatments, because my husband and I had a hard time getting pregnant. But we have had it relatively easy. There are so many women who go through so much more. I barely skimmed the surface.

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AE’s great grandmother is the adorable little one looking offscreen just to the right of his greatgreat grandmother. When she got older, everyone called her Mother Jill (even though her name was not Jill). She turns into the warmest-looking grandmother I’ve ever seen in a picture.

And, you know, I walk away from those conversations with my head held high, feeling incredibly proud of myself. A simple “nope” would have been easier. I’ve wanted to say it every single time. But instead, my brain has gone against my will and has chosen to blurt out the truth. Our truth. The truth about us.

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12 weeks, 3 days: Pants, you are my worst enemy

September 16, 2013 § 22 Comments

Best part about dissertation writing days spent at home?

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And, for those of you still interested, I decided against the fetal doppler for now. I’m starting to feel more at ease, and maybe I should just leave well enough alone. I’m just not willing to bring anything new into the picture that might add to the anxiety that seems to be currently starting to slip away. No setbacks welcomed here.

Also, two of you lovelies commented on the topic of faith. Now, if you’ve read this blog at all, you probably know that I am not a religious person. JulieB said that she has come to appreciate “faith in a secular context as a great mental strength to develop.” And I can get behind this. So, this is what I’m working on right now. Faith in my body. Faith in these babies. After infertility and pregnancy loss, I’m trying to redevelop that faith that this body I have here is capable of sustaining pregnancy and bearing these babes. Seems impossible. But I have to keep reminding myself that so far the evidence is strongly in my favor.

My first OB appointment is on Thursday, and I have my first trimester screen and NT scan exactly one week from today. Best news of the week is that we decided to take Thursday and Friday off and drive 18 hours round trip this past weekend to tell my grandparents about the babies in person. My grandmother cried and cried. And then she forgot and I got to tell her again and she cried and cried some more.

Oh, and there is another highlight. I am definitely sporting a very small bump. Noticeable only when nekkid. But, guys. There is no mistaking it. I’m thickening like bread dough. In fact, last Wednesday I decided to LEAVE WORK EARLY because the waistline of my skirt was too tight.

Hence the UNzippered action.

I WANT TO HEAR YOU, BABIES!

September 10, 2013 § 27 Comments

I have had a fetal doppler occupying my ebay watch list for the last month or so, but I’ve been able to avoid it buying it because of any number of reasons. For example. The babies are too low, too small, and it might get confusing with two. Most importantly, though, I will very likely have a hard time finding them at times and LOSE MY FREAKING MIND.

But. I do want to hear them. I want to be able to listen to them. Imagining them in there is good, but the heart beats would make it so much more real. And, probably equally as much (spoken like a true subfertile, or whatever), I want the reassurance. I am a sucker for reassurance these days.

I just don’t want this thing to cause more tears of fear than tears of tenderness. Like, right now, I am feeling pretty good about the fact that there are two live babies inside of me. But if I were to pull out a doppler and be unable to find them, it isn’t too hard to imagine that that feeling good would turn into feeling not so good. Feeling really neuroticallyhorribleawfulterrifiedhysterical.

But, again, on the other hand, if I had one I could hear them. Probably every day. I could pull the doppler out when Artsy Engineer and I are sitting on the couch after dinner, doing our down time thing, and they could join us for a little while. So maybe it’s worth it.

So, I don’t know, guys. PROCEED TO CHECKOUT or DELETE FROM CART?

The whole twins thing

September 8, 2013 § 31 Comments

I’ve been promising a post dedicated to my response to the fact that I am pregnant with two babies for awhile now.

First, though. Thanks for all of your reassurance about the babies being okay while I was in Stage III. And, more importantly, the decision to buy the minivan. I’ve been driving it for a couple of days now. And, let me tell you. That thing is P.I.M.P. I have not regretted that decision for a minute. I am going to be so baller.

And the babies. The Artsy Engineer really wanted to bake the cookies, so we did. He also picked out a thank you card and wrote a really clever and appreciative note to the staff. (He is a clever man.) We did, however, cover our asses and left everything outside of the clinic hiding behind some plants in case something went wrong and we had to keep our naive optimism hidden. But it was unnecessary. The babies are continuing to do well. They’re on track. Beat beat beating away. Heart rates are still within normal limits. Baby A’s was 180 and Baby B’s was 168. (When we were leaving, one of the administrative assistants insisted that it must be a girl and a boy because of this. Whatever. Just give them to me healthy and happy.) Baby B was kicking its little legs around and waving its arms. Nobody wanted to hold still for measurements or photos. I added the photos to the Inmates’ page anyway. Note: If you look at the picture, tell me that my uterus (or whatever the name is for that visible lighter layer that surrounds each amniotic sac.. if you know I’d be interested) does not look like a swan’s neck encircling the babies. Anyway, I think they pick up on all of the stress hormone coursing through my veins and see it as a cue to go nuts. (SO GLAD my job means that I am aware of the fact that in utero cortisol exposure is associated with right amygdala volume, susceptibility to affective problems in childhood, glucocorticoid secretion in adulthood, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Among other things. So awesome that I will be doing the bulk of my dissertation and going on internship interviews during the course of this pregnancy. Good luck, babies!!!) The nurses actually gave us a little gift, as well. A pair of monkey stuffed animals. Incredibly sweet and pretty surreal. Real objects of comfort for my real live babies who will (please please) be here in March.

But the twin thing. I promised to talk about the twin thing. And K over at the cork & stork blog made a direct request, so I figure it’s time to get on it.

Let me start by saying that I have never been one of those people who wanted twins. Never thought they’d be especially cute. I actually always kind of felt a little bad for twins and their families. So much work for the parents! You don’t get your own birthday! Etc, etc. In fact, when we were discussing options for paying for IVF, the biggest reason we were wary of the shared risk program was that it necessitated the transfer of two embryos (if there were two). I know that there are benefits to twins, too. There is always a playmate around. A teammate. A confidante. And I get two babies! That part is nothing but perfect.

But, when I found out it was two, my reaction was not all tinsel and snowflakes. I cried with love when I heard each of their hearts beat in turn, yes. I was enamored with each of them instantly. But the whole TWINS thing? Gahhh.

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My reaction was initially not all that different to my reaction to these two.

Truthfully, I don’t even like the term, which is why you haven’t really seen my use it in this space. The Artsy Engineer and I substituted the term the babies from the beginning. The word twins implies an entity. And the word for one member of this pair, a twin, always made me think that the person was not whole or complete or individual by him or herself. So, we have twins, yes. But I prefer to think of it as we are having two babies. At once.

Put my lexical quirkiness aside, and there are other concerns that linger.

1) Health. Mine and the babies. Straight talk. There is more risk for them. And more risk for me. And I don’t like this at all.

2) Money. Money will not always be a thing for us. I get that. I will not make bank, by any means, when I finally get myself a real grown up job, but I will make our living more comfortable. For now, though, we get by on a single income brought in by a state employee in addition to help from my parents for big purchases (like minivans and the down payment on the house). We are going to be soooo broke next year. We have some idealistic remedies for this that may or may not pan out, like cloth diapers and breastfeeding. But there will still need to be either daycare OR my husband taking a year off of work and doing the stay-at-home-dad thing while I make a whopping 20 grand while on internship and supplement with student loans.

3) The individual bond with the babies and their own individuality from one another. This sounds silly, but I have a hard time picturing how I will have as strong of a bond with each of these children as I would if I were to only have one child. I won’t be able to spend nearly as much one on one time with Baby A and Baby B. Will that affect my bond with them? Perhaps this concern is unfounded. I don’t know. I’ve never had children. Maybe it would even be a good thing in that it’s nearly impossible to be a helicopter parent of twins. I just can’t divide my attention and devote it fully to two children at once. Maybe they will grow up being a little less spoiled and a little less certain of their place in the center of the universe. Which has got to be a good thing. Also, I will not dress these children alike. When they are old enough to know the difference, they will have their own things.

4) My sanity. This is probably naive, too. But I always thought I’d be one of those parents who maintain her own individuality while also becoming a mom. I am passionate about many things. I don’t want to lose myself in my children and talk or think of nothing else. Do I want to be a mom? Yes. And the family is the most important of my values. But I don’t want to lose my Self. I don’t want to lose my relationship with husband. I don’t want to lose my spark and brightness. And when it comes down to it, it’s simply going to be more work with two than it would be with one. I know this. Can we handle it? Definitely. Will it always be with grace? Nope. But my husband is a hands-on kind of dude. I have no doubt that he will parent as much as I parent. This will surely help.

5) My stomach. Here’s the thing. I’ve always been thin. Not unhealthily thin. But on the very low end of normal,healthy weight kind of thin. When you’ve always been thin, certain things happen. You hear about it from others. A lot. In middle school I was lovingly teased for my knees being the thickest part of my legs. During puberty, this morphed into backhanded ‘compliments’ from friends and acquaintances in the locker room during gym class. Things like, “ugh, i hate you” or “ugh, i wish i was skinny so could pull off those [insert clothing item here].” They were always said with a tone of disdain and a bit of an exaggerated glare that was meant to be cute but actually made me feel kind of bad on the inside. And I never knew how to respond to that sort of thing. I still don’t. I thought this would end with the end of college, maybe. But it turns out that it’s not just teenagers who do this. Adults do it, too. And let me tell you what happens when people around you place so much attention on the object that is your body. You start paying more attention to the object that is your body. Thinness becomes part of your identity. Just like blonde hair might. And, I wont lie. I’m a little more vain than I’d care to admit. I like my thinness. I like my flat stomach. Do I think curves are beautiful? And bellies on women? ABSOLUTELY. But they aren’t my body. This is hard for me to say out loud. It’s really embarrassing, actually. I love bodies, in general. And they don’t have to be perfect bodies for me to see beauty in them. But do I love the fact that I will develop what they apparently refer to as “twin skin”? I don’t have to answer that question because Google it. Do I love the fact that I probably won’t wear a bikini again? Effno.

Now.

Do I wish my two babies were one? Absolutely not. I love them each. I would be devastated if we lost either of them. I want both of these babies in our lives. And, while I don’t do the whole religion thing, I feel so blessed by the universe. So very grateful.

As an aside, I cannot wait to see my dad’s face light up when he meets them for the first time. His response was positively glowing when I told him about the two. I believe he just said, “perfect, Lentil.” My dad is a pediatric ICU doctor. Children love him and he loves them back. He’s the kind of doctor who brings water guns into the hospital to make kids laugh. Unfortunately, most of the kids he treats are so sick, they can’t play back. But he does it nonetheless, because he knows even a weak smile can make a difference. He also has this thing with the mother/child bond. He actually knows a ton of research on this subject. And he collects art depicting it as well, especially Native American depictions. So, yeah. Artsy Engineer and I cannot wait to make him a grandparent and to have him around our babes as long as nature allows it.

This may be the wordiest post I’ve ever written, so you’re welcome. Also, please kick my ass in comments if this sounds unappreciative or insensitive to my infertile sisters still in the trenches. I mean. I wrote a whole paragraph about what the babies may do to my stomach, for godsake. I am so very hypersensitive to all of that. In fact, sometimes I don’t post because of it. So I avoid, which is definitely not the way to do it either. I don’t know. There is no published etiquette for this sort of thing. If there were, I would have hunted it down and devoured it already.

When will I be able to breath again?

September 3, 2013 § 43 Comments

Being pregnant after infertility is really just very weird.

It is definitely not what I thought it would be. Which was pure unadulterated relief. Joy. Heavy, happy sighs. Floating of baby names and predictions of gender. And joy. And relief.

That was clearly very naive of me. It is all of those things. At times. But it is also some other really not so nice things.

My faith in this pregnancy can be understood as coming in three stages.

Stage I: Right after an ultrasound, I feel on top of the fucking world. Like life could not improve if I won the lottery and my family could live forever and I could travel and not work feel no stress ever again. This is obviously the best stage. And, consequently, the time when I am most excited and can get absolutely no work done. I fill my day with googling things like “twins AND sense of self” and “side-by-side versus tandem double strollers” and “baby carrying twins.” It is bliss. I’d live there forever if I could.

Stage II: And then after a few days, I start having nightmares. I mentioned these before. But, guys. They are so bad. I do fine during the day, but at night I dream of dead babies. Dead babies sliding out of me when I pee, disastrous dead baby ultrasounds, stillbirths. I’m able to snap myself out of it when I wake up. I can keep the monsters at bay during the day. I continue my google frenzy. And then I go to sleep again. And the icebabies cometh. This is happening about 4 times a week.

Stage III: Finally, as the next ultrasound draws near, I can’t even control the fear during the day. I’m certain I’ve spent the last weeks kidding myself. There are no more babies in there.

It’s such a confusing rollercoaster. Right now I’m in Stage III. My last appointment with my RE is tomorrow. It is the day I am supposed to ‘graduate.’ I am going to predict a few things. I will not sleep tonight. I will shake during my drive in. And I will have ridiculously high blood pressure when I get there. The Artsy Engineer and I talked about baking some of my grandpa’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for the nurses and other staff and taking them with us tomorrow, but I don’t know if I can do it. What if we come in carrying cookies and everything they represent (e.g., optimism, hope, ease) and come out with no babies? I don’t think I could manage the pity I would feel (imagined or otherwise) from the providers. She even brought cookies. Poor dear.

In true fashion, though, I am at least trying to fight this beast tooth and nail. I want so badly to enjoy this pregnancy. It may, after all, be the only one I have.

So, we did some crazy stuff over the last couple of weeks.

First, we started belly pictures. I think all I have right now is bloat, but my stomach is definitely not as flat as it was a month ago and I know it’s going to ‘show’ faster than a singleton pregnancy, so I want to document this progression. I’ll be 11 weeks on Friday, after all. Second, I went maternity shopping with my mom this weekend, who was visiting from out of town. If these twins continue to grow, I will need these clothes faster than most. I didn’t really want to buy any, but I have very few friends who have been pregnant and none who live in the area. And my mom was really excited about it. I may not get to see her again before I start needing stretchier pants, so I let caution to the wind and went with it. It was frightening. And exhausting. I used a prosthetic belly while trying on a couple of items, which was waaay WEIRD. We were there for nearly 2.5 hours. And I came home in significant enough pain that I was having a hard time walking without wincing (and I have a pretty high pain tolerance). Pretty sure it was coming from my uterosacral ligaments around my tailbone, but I can’t be sure.

And third (this is the real kicker), we bought a new car. We needed it. Both of our cars have nearly 200,000 miles on them. And my car is breaking down regularly. It was time. What I did not think it was time for was the type of car we went with. Get this. We bought a minivan. An 2011 Odyssey with only 20,000 miles on it. For a steal.

I thought I was years (possibly a lifetime) away from a minivan. But, listen. I am about to have 2 kids (positive thoughts), I have two dogs who come with us everywhere, and we drive all over the country to visit family. More than anyone else I know. I’m talking 16-24 hour one way trips. Comfort and ease are crucial.

We were first thinking we’d go with a wagon. But then we looked at the size of the double strollers. Those suckers come up to my husband’s nips (folded up). They are enormous. There is no way we could fit stroller and dogs. Or stroller and groceries. Or a stroller and anything else. I was shocked. So, naturally, we moved up to thinking we’d get an SUV. But holy gas mileage! And, really, many of them didn’t have too much more space than the wagon. And they’re expensive!

Then I test drove a minivan. And I was like, alright, Lentil. This car is perfect. It will carry your shit comfortably. It gets 28 miles to the gallon. It drives more like a car than a boat. You hate driving boats. You can WALK into the back seat and feed your babies while driving across the country.

I realized that the only thing that was not perfect about this van was, well, that it was a van. You know what I’m talking about. The van image includes the mom jeans, the food stains, those horrible stick figure family decals on cars (my reaction to which Things That Hurt Me in My Soul describes perfectly). Which is so silly. But still. I’m still in my 20s (for another month and a half). Am I really at the point where I am considering buying a minivan? Me? But I’m hip! I go to shows and love beer. I eat pretentious foodie food and make my own household products and shop at consignment stores. I DO NOT drive minivans.

But, really. Does a woman piling out of a luxury SUV with a couple of kids and a husband carrying two diaper bags look hip? No. Definitely not. It isn’t the car that determines the hipness. So, who am I kidding? The reality of the situation is that we will become a family of 4 (please please, universe) overnight. In March. And I’m pretty sure all I’m going to care about at that point is making the day-to-day things simpler and more convenient. So a minivan it is. We pick it up from the seller on Thursday morning. And I’m actually incredibly excited about the car and pleased with the decision. Unreal. Maybe I’ll even post a pic. You guys can help me think of names for it. And, if push comes to shove (har har), it has plenty of room for this.

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