I made it through October: 21 weeks, 3 days

November 18, 2013 § 21 Comments

Guys, I made it through September and October.

I never doubted my ability to get everything done, but I expected that it would be pretty painful at times. And it was. But, it was not very acute pain. Let’s face it. All of us have been through acute pain during the last year or couple or several. Or more. But this was not that. I was busy and moderately anxious, operating on little sleep and with a husband/caretaker who was completely neglected. (Thank the stars for that man.)

But, I did it.

My dissertation proposal is passed. My internship applications are submitted. And, I managed to get everything done while remaining pretty positive and without falling behind (at least, to a degree noticeable to others) in any of my other responsibilities. I’m going to call that success.

I also turned 30 (which was pretty anticlimactic, given that my birthday was on a Friday and I sat at my desk staring at application materials until about 10:30PM). My birthday, itself, was actually pretty tough. Perhaps my toughest day in the last 6 weeks or so. My sister came in town for the weekend to help make it feel special. I knew I’d have to work a lot during the days, but I took the later evenings off (with the exception of my actual birthday, because she didn’t get in until late on that day anyway), and it was really nice to have her around to make my non-work time feel different from typical non-work time that just involves The Artsy Engineer and I.

My birthday was a little weird for me, though, and here’s why. I had a miscarriage ON my birthday last year. I noticed the bleeding when I used the porta potty at the urban farming nonprofit where I sometimes volunteer my time. I was in public, but also alone, as there was no one there I knew. I was cold. And dirty. And bleeding. It was a horrible horrible day. So, I spent all day this year feeling extremely anxious and on edge. I was crabby. I was tearful. It wasn’t very pretty at all. I ended up having to abandon work and take a long walk in the middle of the day just to try to relieve my body of the excessive energy. It did not help. I was buzzed on fear.

Thankfully, in the afternoon, the babies made it better. I’ve been feeling them move for about 6 weeks now. It started around 15-16 weeks with little tiny flutters and pops. BARELY THERE flutters and pops. But over the past few weeks, they’ve picked up significantly. And, on the afternoon of my birthday, when I was feeling desperate and worried and sad (perhaps because I was feeling desperate and worried and sad), they were the most active they had been to that point. They basically put on an internal birthday show for me, right there in my uterus. We’re good, mom! We’re here and we love you and your psychological discomfort and the cortisol it is creating is making is feel weird, so please stop that. But we’re good.

I’m 21 weeks today, and y’all, I am going to have at least one extremely active baby. Baby A, who is apparently situated on my right side, is a serious flipper and kicker. Baby B is much MUCH more chill. Anyway, I started feeling them from the outside around 18 weeks. Late afternoon on my birthday, I called The Artsy Engineer over like I was in some sort of an emergency. I grabbed his hand and placed in on my stomach right in time for him to receive a big kick on right in the middle of his palm. Since then, I’ve been able to feel them move from the outside many times a day. Baby A often and daily. Baby B only once every couple of days. It’s incredible.

Also, I’m huge. I suppose I’m not really huge. But I feel huge. Huge for 21 weeks, at least. I have grown immensely over the last several weeks. And, yes. I’ve had some aches and pains accompanying the growth spurt. Sleep was SUPER shitty for awhile there while I was adjusting to sleeping on my sides. It’s improved, but is still not within the normal range. I wake up every morning feeling like an 80 year old. I have to sit on the edge of the bed and stretch before I can get myself up. The only other complaint I have is my blood pressure. As in it being too low. This is notable, because I am typically borderline prehypertensive. But nope. Not right now. It first happened when I went in for my most recent OB follow/up. After the brief ultrasound my doc typically performs to check the heart rates, he put out his hand and pulled me up and I nearly keeled off the side of the exam table. The dizziness stuck around, and I ended up having to stay supine for about an hour and half for monitoring until it climbed back up to within normal limits. It was very odd. And a little scary. At one point it hit 60/40. Now, I’m no medical doctor, but I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to look like that. Normally, I fight to get the diastolic pressure in the 70s. And I’ve never seen the systolic pressure below 115. Yikes. And I couldn’t blame my water intake. My appointment was at 9 AM, and I’d already had at least 36 oz of water.

Also, we had the anatomy scan a few weeks ago!!! Babies looked good. There were some moments of worry when the ultrasound tech said she was concerned about the size of Baby A’s stomach. And, yeah, it looked too big. But when the MFM doctor came in a half hour later, she took another look and it looked completely normal. She brought us in for another check yesterday and everything was peachy. She said this happens fairly regularly but that it appeared as though Baby A had JUST taken a number of large gulps of amniotic fluid when the stomach was initially measured and it just hadn’t had time to make it’s way into the lower portions of the digestive tract yet. She repeated several times with a very nonchalant look on her face that she was not worried in the least and that, therefore, we should not be either. And shockingly, I’m not.

We do not know the sexes yet. However, we have an envelope in the glove box of my car with two tiny slips of folded paper inside. And on each piece of paper is the sex of one of the babes.

We asked the ultrasound tech write these down for us, because we’ve decided that we want to know but that we didn’t want to find out in a hospital. We wanted to do it on our own terms, when I was feeling good (apparently, laying on an exam table and having someone press a transducer on my stomach makes me feel both queasy and dizzy) and we didn’t have to go immediately to work afterward. I don’t need the surprise on the delivery day. Birthing children and meeting these two will be surprise enough. And, given the fact that I’ve had a hard time connecting to these babes (I’m guessing I can thank infertility and loss for that) and the fact that there are TWO of them, I think knowing the sexes will help both of us get a head start on the bonding process. It’s been much better since we were both able to start feeling movement, but it’s still been gradual. Baby steps.

We’ll decide we’re ready when we’re ready, I guess. But we’re planning on this readiness arriving sometime in the next week or so. We’re taking the whole week of Thanksgiving off and making the rounds to visit family. We’re going to visit my family first for a couple of days and then swing down to the DC area for the entire week of Thanksgiving to visit The Artsy Engineer’s family. And we want to be able to tell them all in person – when we can experience their reaction and be part of the joy and excitement. Because, holy shit. We only get one chance to do that.

And, we better be ready, because my husband’s sister and two of my closest friends are throwing us an “east coast shower” that weekend when I’ll be 23 weeks (because we won’t make it back out there before the babies are born), and we’ve agreed to make that a slash “gender” reveal party of sorts. It will only be The Artsy Engineer’s family and 5-10 of his closest childhood friends (who are now also some of my closest friends). I’ll write more about this because there is more to write about it, but I don’t want throw things at you all willy nilly. Reading back over this post, let me revise. I don’t want to throw things at you all willy nilly any more than I already have.

But. For now the envelope sits. And it waits.

Gender.

October 18, 2013 § 22 Comments

I’ve been thinking about gender lately.

Namely, because we are still on the fence about deciding whether or not we want to “FIND OUT.” That is the big question everyone is asking these days. I think if you asked me today if I was ready to know, I would say no and cover my ears and hide my eyes. I don’t really care about being surprised on delivery day. It’s not that. With a twin birth experience, I think there will probably be enough surprises to keep me occupied. The sex of my children does not have to be one of them.

It’s just that is such a BIG thing! And with all big things, I have a tendency to avoid. Avoid avoid. Plus, I can’t unlearn it! And it feels kind of special not knowing.

I don’t care about the whole buying stuff thing. I consider just about every color to be gender neutral. And I think I will probably not buy my children clothing with dump trucks or tiaras on them until (and if) that is something they pick out for themselves.

A friend joked that I should find out the sex of one of the babies and wait for the other until delivery. At first, I was all like haha but then I thought hold up. Maybe? Because, well, HILARIOUS. And because you seriously can’t go wrong. If we find out one is a girl, well, it could be a girl and a girl! Or a boy and a girl!

That being said, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the possible combinations of sexes I could have inside of me. The possibilities are all incredible and unique, especially when you think about the sex of each baby in relation to the other. I honestly think I will be thrilled with any of the three possibilities and will equally mourn the other two.

One thing you all don’t know about me is that my master’s research was focused on social inequality – specifically, privilege and, its flip side, disadvantage. If you haven’t thought about this topic ever (or if you have, and want to read something that will surely impact you), read this right quick. It is a breath stopper for me. Every time. Anyway, during the course of my undergrad and master’s work, I spent a lot of time reading and thinking about women’s studies and gender.

I would consider myself a feminist. My definition of feminist? A proponent of equal rights for men and women. Easy, right? Perhaps we’re all feminists after all, eh?

Yet, when I think about the possibility of parenting girls, I think about added stressors that come with it.

And, no, I don’t mean all of the dangerous penises out there (at least not yet) or the worry about pubescent teenagers, which are the things people around me bring up when they muse over the idea of us having two girls.

I worry about the things this young woman so elegantly states with brief but eloquent and empathic words:

http://www.upworthy.com/watch-a-student-totally-nail-something-about-women-that-ive-been-trying-to-articulate-for-37-years-6?g=3

Do I want girls, though? You bet. And boys? Absolutely. One of each? Bring it on.

Would you choose to have twins?

October 17, 2013 § 17 Comments

As I sit here with my dissertation proposal powerpoint slides in front of me, fretting over my preparedness for my 4pm meeting with my committee, I moseyed on over to one of the twin forums I sometimes peek at when I am in desperate need for a distraction.

This was the first thing I saw:

http://forums.thebump.com/discussion/12094273/would-you-choose-to-have-twins#latest

I thought oh, nice! a feel good find! fully expecting to be hit with positivity and love and reassurance. 

But, nope.

Out of 22 responses, only THREE twin moms said they would choose to have twins if they had a choice.

Of course, they all say that they love their children and they wouldn’t change their situation now, but had they known what they were getting into and had they had an option, they would not have picked the box with two balloons.

Um. Not exactly the positive, mindless web-surfing I was hoping for. Google strikes again. Ouch.

16 weeks, 4 days: The mother of updates

October 15, 2013 § 32 Comments

I’ve been gathering words in my head for you for weeks.

I won’t get to all of it now. I tried, actually. I wrote about twice as much, and it read as manic and tangential, so I had to cut the rest for a future post.

But, before I focus, one other thing. I have exactly 1000 comments on my blog exactly right now. That is incredible. I am humbled beyond belief. Thank you eachofyou for caring about me. Such community there is in this community. Such love. And also, I feel like I should take a picture of it. It’s like how you feel when you happen to look at the clock and it’s 11:11 or 12:34.

Ok, let’s get to it, eh?

October is my favorite month of the year. It holds some of my favorite time-limited sensory experiences – the briskness of cool wind combined with warm sun on my skin, the smells of woodstoves and decaying leaves (gifts from the Earth to our senses), the taste of roasted and salted pumpkin seeds, the weight of heavy blankets and sweaters and wool beanies on your body, the knowledge of the year turning on its heels to leave us. And, holy hell, the colors. Oh, the colors.

Since beginning graduate school in 2008, October always seems to turn out to be the busiest month of the year. I typically cozy up during the weekends and work, rarely taking the opportunity to experience the gift of the season.

I’m trying to do it differently this time. However.

October 2013 is the month of madness, and late September was a preparation for October. And this, my friends, is why I seem to have disappeared a bit. I’m still reading and cheering you on, but I realize my comments have been scattered and my own posts sparse. I apologize.

Here’s the thing, though. In the month of October, I will be proposing my dissertation, applying for internships (a much larger undertaking than it sounds), and turning 30. And, if we decide to find out the sexes of these two sweet babes, we may be squeezing that in as well. It is a BIGBIG month. My dissertation proposal is on Thursday (wish me luck, friends), and I have one of the fathers of my field on my committee. I am shaking in my boots even thinking about it. Last night I dreamed that I was eating a bowl of saucy pasta during my presentation, and I kept pausing to slurp up huge bites which then left me unable to answer any of the questions posed to me. And these internship applications? Let me just say that this is the part of my program that is given the highest rank for its ability to induce anxiety. Most people choose not to propose their dissertation and apply for internship in the same month, but I’m a bit of a procrastinator. So here I am. If you know me, you know that I do not get things done quickly, but I get them done very very well.

Anyway. As a result of this monster of a month, I’m going to shoot some pregnancy related bullet points at you. Once things get back to normal, I will return to proper paragraphs and structural soundness. Deal?

1) All of the sudden, I have a belly. Two weekends ago, the Artsy Engineer and one of our closest friends, Fritz, who was visiting from Philadelphia for a wedding, kept teasing me by telling me that I had Who-body. You know, from Whoville? The kind Horton hears?

trims_dr_seuss_whoville_bulletin_trim

I get it. Skinny arms and legs and this little tummy pouch. But I personally think that at the time I actually looked more like another Dr. Suess’ most famous characters. This lovable guy.

grinch

Sir Grinch

But that was two weeks ago. Now, all of the sudden, I no longer look like I’m packing beer gut. I look pregnant. Andandand, my belly button is already nearly flat. Sunday, one of my yoga instructors became the first to ask me if I was pregnant. After class, he pointed at my belly and said (a little uncertainly, because, you know, what if you’re wrong!), “Is that a baby in there?” It melted me. First, I splurge on a membership to a really nice yoga studio, where I fall in love with every single one of my teachers. Everysingleone. Most are women, but this happens to be a man. A young one. He’s probably in his early to mid-20s. His voice during practice is like a calming blanket. And I melt under his hands whenever he makes adjustments to my poses. Second, it was just, well, incredibly special to realize that I am noticeably pregnant. I’ve been diligently taking bump photos every week or two and I’ll eventually be starting an official bump page, but for now, here’s a little unofficial taste taken this past weekend at around 16 weeks.

IMG_20131011_131745_030

16 weeks exactly.

All of the sudden, I am becoming one of those pregnant ladies in the grocery store that I used to smile/scowl at. As warm of a feeling this is, it comes with these little stabs of guilt. I pass couples who aren’t carting kids around and I wonder. Am I making her hurt?

2) Remember how I decided not to buy a doppler? Well, I panicked one night (less than a week after that post was written) and, without hesitation or much additional thought, bought a doppler. Hunted one down on craigslist and hounded the poor woman until she agreed to let me drive over at 8 o’clock at night and pick it up from her house. I don’t use it very often. Maybe once a week, give or take. It was really easy to find both heart beats at first, because my uterus was low and they were small and I knew exactly where to look. Now it’s a bit harder to find both. And, I know that, so I look for them less often, try to rely on that faith in nature and in my body, and when I do look for them and have trouble finding them, I don’t love it, but I also don’t freak out. I put the doppler away and I try again a few hours later. Easy. (LIES)

3) I had my NT scan. I can’t believe it was three weeks ago. I’m ashamed that it was three weeks ago and I haven’t reported on it. Is it even news? Do you even care anymore? Probably not, but I’ll proceed anyway. First of all, I was terrified (as usual), but not as terrified as I would have been if I had not had my first OB appointment a week before. My OB is of the lovely variety who gives a quickie ultrasound for twins to listen for heart beats, because he wants to be absolutely positive that he is listening to both and not just to one reflected off of a wall or something. Thank my stars for him. But one week later, I’m at the NT scan. It lasted an hour and a half. An hour and a half of laying in a dimly lit room with a big, beautiful flatscreen TV positioned high on the wall in front of me.

And you guys. When the live image popped up on the screen, it was all of Baby B. And Baby B had the hiccups. And then Baby B stretched its little legs out like it was straight chilling. Exactly like I do on road trips when I stretch my legs out on the dash like this. My mom used to get annoyed with me because I would leave toe prints on the inside of the windshield, but now Artsy Engineer just cleans them off without a word. Yup. He loves me. Anyway, when we switched over to Baby A, it had its little arm bent and its five fingers extended. It looked like it was trying to work its tiny little thumb up to its mouth.

And because I’m all about images this week, here are a two of each of the babes. They caught both babies doing the adorable things described above in pictures for me, and I will include them on the Inmates’ page. But for now, here are the babes and their best profile shots.

EXP0012 copy

Baby B. Heart, bum, knees, toes.

EXP0015 copy

Baby A was snuggled in and not really up for photos. But the profile. Those lips.

Looking at their faces right now, I want to hold them in my hands. I want to kiss their lips and noses. I want to run my finger lightly over their faces to help them relax like my dad did with me when I was a child. I’ve looked at these pictures at least 25 times in the last three weeks, but typing this right now is the first time they – these two, my Inmates – have brought tears of love to my eyes. I’ll be honest with you guys. I have had a difficult time really connecting with these guys. Yes, I’m 16 and a half weeks and I talk about wanting to meet them and we purchased our first item for the nursery and my body is changing, but up to now, the protective armor has seemed still solidly snapped into place. There are babies in there and their skulls are the size of apricots right now (incredible) and I love those ideas, but have I developed an attachment to these particular children? I don’t know. I think these present tears indicate that I’m getting closer. I cried when I first heard their heart beats, but was that love or was that relief?

And, on that note, I cannot end today’s post without recognizing that today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, and I need to acknowledge the pregnancy that I lost and the ones that many of you have lost. I am so sorry. So so sorry. No one should have to experience this. And especially sorry for those who have lost more than one. Because my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage, I have spent this new pregnancy in fear that I will be a sufferer of repeat pregnancy loss. Why? Because every one of these women started with one. Despite evidence to the contrary, I still fear this. And I also fear the increased risks of preterm labor and infant mortality that come with multiple gestation. Desperately at times and at times blunt and mildly.

But as I sit here and think of these babies inside of me, I have to keep repeating the words borrowed by a sisterfriend in the blog world: This is its own pregnancy.

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.

Image

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.

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

September 16, 2013 § 22 Comments

Best part about dissertation writing days spent at home?

Image

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?