Monday, November 17, 2014

Bitter or Better

This idea has been hanging heavy on my mind for awhile now. But, before I get into that, I will say that we saw the MFM doctor again today. Although the reason for it is shit, it is nice for someone who is high strung under normal circumstances to be able to check in on the little babes so much.

And they are just fine, though the picture doesn't really do them justice since they move so much and its hard to zero in on them. They both measure the same and they look like actual little babies now. They were kicking their spider legs at each other. The good news is that we were able to rule out conjoined twins today, since they have finally separated a bit. The bad news is that time number three searching for a membrane was still not successful.

I know there is still hope that we might find this paper thin membrane everyone talks about, but the hope isn't great. The babies were touching on yet another plane today and that means that's 3 different places the babies can touch. The odds aren't good that they can somehow do that through a membrane that is meant to separate them.

Still, today we have healthy little beans, and that's what matters most. The doctor on duty didn't mince any words when it came to our chances, but he did tell me something that was (oddly) reassuring. He said "I wont tell you not to worry, but I will tell you this. There is NOTHING you can do. Nothing that you can do or will do is going to make a difference (obviously notwithstanding the normal things like smoking, drinking, ect)". He said that hes seen the highest risk pregnancies go off without a hitch, and normal run of the mill pregnancies go to emergency in one minute. And that the technology and practices get better every day. But in the end ... the chips will fall where they lie, and there isn't much anyone can do.

For a self proclaimed control freak, it isn't always easy to just let fate do its thing. Still, in a weird way, its nice to know that I can let it go a little because the worrying isn't going to keep my babies safe.

And that leads me to what Ive been grappling with, truthfully since we found out we were expecting. You see, after just one miscarriage and a lot of heartache in the past, I find it hard to be excited about pregnancy. Instead I throw the stick down and say "okay, now lets see whats going to go wrong".

At first I worried about chemical pregnancies and I was jealous of those who got to announce.

Then I was worried about miscarriage, and was jealous of those who were in their second trimester.

Then I worried about missed miscarriage and I was jealous of women who didn't have to go through that.

Then came the twins ... and the type of twins ... and I was jealous of anyone who got to have a "regular" pregnancy.

You see the theme here? While jealousy is a very normal part of being human, the problem with too much of it is that it can sour you pretty quickly. It can poison your mind and your heart, and suddenly it can have you believe that not only is EVERYONE else getting what they want, but they are doing it in a direct attack on you.

Its hard not to compare. Its hard to wonder why crackheads and pedophiles get healthy babies, and you fight for every one you have (or every one you want). Its hard to see people breeze through life and never seem to struggle.

But I suppose, if I was thinking about it, that we all have something that could be coveted. Some of us have babies, some have husbands ... some have jobs, or homes, or families that love us. Some of us have mothers, some have fathers. Some of us have beauty or brains. If you start playing that game, suddenly everyone is an asshole who is taking what is "yours".

But it hit me, not long ago, that I can control this. I can let this experience make me bitter, or I can let it make me better. I need to look inside myself and deal with it in there. Deal with the haves, and the have nots.

Deal with the fact that this is scary.

Deal with the fact that Im scared.

Deal with the fact that we might lose our babies.

Deal with the fact that life isn't "fair".

Deal with the fact that there isn't one pool of happiness and everyone only gets to take from some finite share. That no ones uterus, or babies, or experiences have anything to do with my own. They don't take away from whats happening and they don't contribute to it.

I think its normal to feel pangs of jealousy, or even hurt. If we lose these babies I will never look at twins the same. I think I will always be envious of anyone who has twins. But there is a difference between being envious and deciding that your situation is the only one that matters.

So Ive decided to make a choice. A conscious choice to not let myself go down that road. I have to deal with this head on. Not deflect it. Not minimize it. I need to hurt when I need to, and I need to feel joy when I do. Nothing is going to "jinx" me and nothing is going to "give me luck". I have faith in God and I have a lot of support. Whatever happens to these sweet babies from here, at least we know we had them.

On that note, we went public, a week earlier than I was expecting. I was hesitant, but so glad we did. I forget that everything gets easier when you have a huge support system, and I have one of the best. Just seeing all the thoughts, prayers, and positive thoughts was enough to really make me feel positive. And we lived to see another day.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Momos arent the worst thing!

We had our appointment with the MFM specialist on Monday. While I thought I was prepared for anything, the appointment took a turn for the worst pretty quickly.

Allen was off that day, which meant he would get his first look at the twinks. I was hoping and praying to see a dividing membrane, but I would be content with two heartbeats. Always hoping for two heartbeats, every time. Its a bit exhausting, all this worry.

So the tech asks what we know about identical twins, and is impressed by our extensive knowledge. She assures us that momos are so rare that shes bound to find a membrane today. My confidence grew that my worries were just Google fed, and we would actually be just fine with mo/di twins.

That didn't go quite as planned. From the beginning, the twins have been intertwined. They just don't want to let go of one another. While that is sweet, when you know what it means, its also scary. The fact that they can not only touch, but can touch in different forms / parts, usually means that there is no membrane.

A membrane should keep them apart. Even if they were to back up to the membrane and be next to one another, they should not be able to touch constantly and in various ways. Im not a tech, or a doctor, but I know this.

So no, theres no membrane. And she asks to do a transvaginal (of course), because every single person swears they will be the one to find the stupid membrane. But no one ever does. And everyone swears that momos are SO RARE and the membrane is TOTALLY going to be found, but no one sees what we do on that screen.

There. Is. No. Membrane.

While that upsets me in a lot of ways, at this point Im frustrated because I just want to move past it already. There is no damn membrane so lets get to the point - our pregnancy is so rare and high risk that we are basically a freak show. Got it.

But the tech wont give up, and the MFM doctor comes in. This is when things go from yucky news to downright scary. The MFM doctor is concerned that the twins don't move independently. Before she can rule out conjoined, she wants to see them separate in certain parts of their body. Although I know in my head that last time they separated, that doesn't prevent me from being scared to death.

The tech has the wand as far as it can go, and the MFM doctor is pushing on my stomach trying to get the twins to budge. They refuse. The tech and doctor keep apologizing for hurting me (and it does hurt quite a bit), but I just want them to get the babies to move so we all feel reassured.

The twins were so stubborn and they wouldn't budge. The doctor told the tech to put suspected conjoined and the tech did, then went back to abdominal just in case. FINALLY twin A slid down and put their head on Twin B's butt. While they were still touching, the doctor said that was enough to put the chance down to about 10%. We still haven't "ruled out" conjoined and have to go back on Monday.

Troublemaker Twinks

Then the doctor, whom I sure was just trying to be sensitive, took my hands in her hands and looked me square in the eye. She told me she was pretty positive these twins were momo's (at least) and that meant that we were in for a very long road. She told me we had to come back next week for a consultation, where we were going to hear some very scary things. She specifically mentioned "guaranteed preemies", "long hospital stay" and "stillbirth". Although I knew all of these things, for some reason hearing her say them brought me to tears. I guess its different when youre Googling worst case scenarios and your medical professional is telling you that your odds are, frankly, not great.

She did wrap up by saying that modern medicine was amazing, and making great strides every day. She also said that she can name two moms right now whose momos were alive and thriving, healthy little girls that youd never know were high risk preemies.

While that made me feel better, I just had a break down when they left the room. Although I am grateful for the chance, I don't understand why we have to go through this. Why us? Why not just a baby to add to our family? I know that so many people never even get this far, and I need to count our blessings, but its hard.

 Its hard not to wonder every second of the day if the twins are okay, if today is the day that we officially become a statistic. Oh, Ill say, I had momos too, but I lost them. They died for no other reason than the egg split a day later than it should have. Just one day. I couldn't protect them from that one day.

Its hard not to worry about the hospital stay, or missing my kids and husband, or money.

Its hard not to worry about how well feel when we see our babies struggling in the NICU when they should be cozy inside me.

Its hard not to worry about how well feel when we cant buy a thing, we cant decorate, we cant plan. When we should be stocking up on diapers and sales on baby gear, well have to just pass it by and say "IF the babies are born, THEN well buy things". We wont purchase so much as a onesie until the twins are safely out of me. Although I know no one is promised a baby, no matter how healthy they are or how great things look, its hard to carry that with you all the time. 50/50. You might get a baby, you might not. It all depends on the winds of fate. Or the plan that is already written.

All of this is a lot to take on. Im hesitant, but we have chosen to announce at the standard 12 weeks if we make it that far. We want to celebrate the peanuts for as long as we have them. Although part of me thinks I should just keep it quiet, the larger part knows that I cannot possibly go on as if they don't exist. As if they never existed. They are woven into the tapestry of who I am, just as much as my kids that are living. And the one who is not.

2 years ago yesterday we lost our baby bean. I thought I would never recover, but I did. We got through. And we have Gabrielle. I just keep thinking, no matter what well make it through. But I do know we wont make it through unchanged.

I cant tell if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Its been over a year since I posted anything here. Life gets crazy - two little ones, moving around the country, just being ...

I feel like I have to chronicle this journey though. I don't know why, or what compels me to do so. Maybe Ill be writing through my grief at some point. Maybe Ill be giving others hope. Or a voice. Or a place to know they aren't alone.

Whatever the case, here it goes. Im bringing blogging back ... but not under the funniest of terms.

Allen and returned to Fort Irwin in August as a pit stop to our new life. He had just graduated school and life was good. We decided to take the kids to Disneyland as our joint birthday celebration / farewell to California.

Gabrielle had just weaned, and I knew my cycle would return at some point, though I was quite concerned it had stayed away for a whole year. Baby fever had majorly returned, and we were anxiously awaiting the "green light" from nature to begin trying for our next addition.

Before going to Disney, I got a teasing text from a friend that said "don't bring home any more souvenirs!". We have a strong suspicion that John was our present we brought home from at 2010 trip to Disney world. I laughed and said "whatever, that would be great!". Famous last words.

I know my body and Natural Family Planning enough to know that ovulation was nearing, so I warned my husband that a decision to do those activities would probably lead to a baby. He was on board so we threw caution to the wind and hoped we'd have something to celebrate soon.

Heh. In hindsight, that makes me chuckle.

We arrived at our temporary home (a pit stop before our real move) and to the hotel that would be our home the next three months. Things went quite wrong from the beginning and I felt TERRIBLE. I had felt that way before, but the test was negative so I thought maybe I was just travel lagged. Still, I kept telling Allen that either I was pregnant or crazy. He told me it was crazy and to STOP taking tests. Sure enough, the faintest of lines appeared. I walked out of the bathroom, threw him the test and said "SEE?! Not crazy!". That's the kind of romance you get on kid #3.

The tests got darker over the days, but something felt wrong. I don't know what it was, but I just had an ominous feeling about things. The first scare came when I used those stupid Clearblue weeks estimators and it went from 2-3 to 3+ back to 2-3. We spent one whole weekend waiting for a miscarriage that never came. Finally I took another and it was a solid 3+. Waste of money and time, those things are.

Then the 7 week scan showed a tiny little baby with a heartbeat, but measuring very small. A week behind. I knew the date I got my BFP and that would have made it 4 DPO. If you know anything about NFP, you know that's not remotely possible. So I was sent home with the instructions to wait two weeks and come back for a follow up "viability scan". Most slow growers do not go on past the second trimester. Another two weeks of hell followed, where I kept saying "well, IF the baby survives, which it wont". I had even started to feel like I had grieved the pregnancy and I was ready to move on to the next step.

I feel like I have to put this photo here to show that this is what we saw the whole time. One heartbeat. One little baby. I have since seen the ultrasound on the computer at the OB. There was not a second of that scan where you would ever guess it was not just a small measuring singleton baby.

So I went back two weeks later, so nervous I could throw up. My two girlfriends went with me, even though I said Id be fine and I just wanted to get it over with. Im so glad there were there now.
The tech did an abdominal first. She knew how nervous I was, so she said "see? Baby has grown, heres the heart, great rate ....". I cried so hard I shook the picture on the screen. I couldnt believe I went in thinking I would lose the baby, only to find that s/he was perfect. And they did look perfect and measured right on target (2 days behind this time, but thats fine given I wasn't temping or charting).
So she moves the scanner around for awhile and we see baby, but s/he isnt really moving. In fact, the whole picture looks strange. S/he isn't moving, but it looks like its ... morphing? I thought the picture was just really bad.
The tech asks if she can do a transvaginal. Of course I insist she tell me why and whats wrong but she just said it all is great and she needs to back herself up for her records. I empty my bladder and go back thinking its for sure terrible news. She inserts the wand, we see baby and a heartbeat. I start to joke "hey, how many are in there?!" because even though baby isn't moving much, it looked like it was flipping back and forth. The tech was really quiet. She then went back to abdominal, again saying everything was fine, she just needed to look one more time.
Then I saw what looked like another heartbeat ... but there was already a heartbeat? That didn't make sense. She finally said that she was sure it was fine, but there did look to be two babies (SHOCK!!!!!!)). She called the doctor in and they discussed what could be "machine mirroring" which is where the machine malfunctions and the images mirror one another. They were about to have me come back in two weeks to see what they thought, when the babies very clearly broke apart ... put fluid in between them ... and showed us all that there was no mistake. Baby A and Baby B - measured great, heart rate great .... identical spontaneous twins.
After the initial shock, we were ecstatic. I told my husband in a fun way, and we told our closest friends and family. And then we googled.
Oh dear. Don't ever google, thats what they say. They are right you know.
We found out that not only are our risk factors with identical through the roof, they are even more so with mono/mono twins, which is what we believe we are dealing with since they were practically intertwined the whole time. We have an appointment on Monday for the level II scan to see if they are mono/mono or mono/di. We are praying for mono/di twins, as the risks are slightly lower, but the chances are slim after what we saw.
I want to chronicle this journey because I want my babies to be remembered, no matter how long they are in the world. I fell hopelessly in love with them both the second they broke from their heart shape and showed themselves. I want nothing more than to bring them home, safe, and I will stop at nothing until we do. But I know the reality we are facing .... all I can do is pray.