Monday, October 7, 2019

More?

In August DH got a referral for the big V. He asked me if there was any reason to bank sperm before the surgery, since that ship will have sailed afterward. I know what my answer should be, but I hesitated.

If I was to wake up today and see two lines on a pregnancy test, I'd be happy. So my question to myself is: why?

I *think* it's because actually being a mom has been awesome. Because I'm so enjoying all of the 'firsts' that we're having with these babies, and I'm sad that they'll be our only firsts. Because I'm sad I've already hit some 'lasts:' the last nap snuggle with A on the sofa, the last time breastfeeding, the last time sitting with T on my legs after a bottle hearing her 'talk' happily to me. I loved two of those things.

Two lines would mean an in-pregnancy TAC, though. It would mean risking loss and the NICU again. It would mean risking the physical hell I went through after my c-section again. It would mean that I'd go from feeling like I can never quite give enough attention to each child because the other needs me to feeling like there's no way in h*ll I can give everyone the attention I'd like to give! It would probably mean an extra 4+ years of work to offset childcare and college costs.

Let's get real here, too. After my second post c-section hysteroscopy, my uterus was filled with scar tissue. The ultrasound images were so bad that I could see all the scarring. I'll be 40 in not that many days. I won't go through treatments again, because I won't risk twins again or spend that kind of money. So two lines would mean a genuine miracle, which I gave up on when Quinn arrived four days short of minimum viability.

Writing all of this down, my head knows what the right decision for our family is, and that decision doesn't involve banking anything. My heart is still hesitating. I told DH I was hesitating. I told him why I was hesitating.

Turns out, he's hesitating too, for the same reasons.

I'm not sure where we go from here. Maybe NTNP once my period returns. I hear rumors that unprotected sex leads to pregnancy. I'll probably just wind up with more early losses, but so long as the hesitation remains, I guess I'm willing to take that risk. We'll see where DH falls when the time comes.

______________________
I typed this post up, then life got in the way and I wasn't able to post it for several weeks. And in that time, something has changed that's leaving me spinning. My corporate 2020 benefits came out. And my employer is now offering infertility coverage, that, according to the brochure, would allow me to go straight to IVF. AND, for the first time in 2020, my clinic is covered!

I don't know the dollar limits, but if IVF was covered, we wouldn't have to risk twins again. And if it was covered, there wouldn't be the same financial pressure. There are my two objections to more treatments, gone.

I feel like this might change everything. Or the limits might be so low it would change nothing. Or I might be too old for my clinic now. Or, or, or, or. . .   Did I mention I'm spinning? So much to consider and discuss with DH.

Monday, September 2, 2019

10 weeks, 2 pounds

Grief is an odd thing, reminding me of shadows cast by the trees in our yard as the day progresses: the form changes constantly, but often returns to familiar patterns.

Since A and T's arrival, my grief over losing Alexis, Zoe, and Quinn hasn't gone away. In some ways, it's actually intensified. What has gone away is the fear and the heartbreak of the possibility of a life without living children. That worry and that grief, which were huge, are memories. Today I have so much joy from interacting with A and T. Watching them grow and discover their world is amazing.

At the same time, I feel my grief has grown, shifted back to something closer to how I felt shortly after my later losses. That's because I suddenly understand exactly what Alexis, Zoe, and Quinn missed. Seeing what my living children get to experience and knowing that their big sisters never got that opportunity makes me understand what they missed. Back then, I felt intense grief because I'd just lost a dream for their lives and mine. That intensity faded over time. Now it's more acute again, as I know, truly know, what I was losing, when I lost them.

I also struggle with the knowledge that Quinn was born at 21 weeks, 3 days and A and T were born at 31 weeks 4 days. Quinn was just under a pound, A and T were about three and a half. Ten weeks. Ten weeks and two pounds is all that separates healthy, happy children from crushing loss. Two pounds - that's less than almost anything you could buy at Costco. It's lighter than a pair of shoes. It's nothing, and yet it was literally everything. Ten weeks? While the 8 weeks of T's NICU stay were long in some ways, they went by in a flash. How could something so minuscule as 10 weeks and 2 pounds be so life altering? I want to find some sense in it, some meaning, but there isn't any. The sense is that three equally minuscule fiber bands around my cervix were also life altering, but in a positive way.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Baby Book: 6 Months

We hit 6 months today, and the babies are growing and developing. In honor of the one year anniversary of her positive beta, T learned to blow raspberries a few weekends ago. She's pretty funny. Most of her 'talking' she does with huge smiles and great happiness. Raspberries, on the other hand, are serious business. The fact that she's so serious and intent makes it even funnier when she lets out a huge long string of 'BRAAAPPP!'-sounding raspberries. At one point, I was sitting on one side of the couch feeding A, and a good five or six long raspberries came from the other side of the couch where DH was holding T. I assumed it was DH, but nope, all T!

T can also now roll over onto her side from her back, and in fact get her hips all the way down. She hasn't quite gotten over her shoulders yet, though. A occasionally rolls back to front, but it's sporadic.

T is getting good at grabbing hanging toys with both hands and bringing things to her mouth. Both kids love hugging their burp cloths and chewing on them. We often have to "fight" the babies to get burp clothes out of their mouths so we can put bottles in! T has started holding onto her bottle along with whoever is feeding her, although she hasn't quite figured out the difference between pushing away and pulling toward! She spends most of a a feed pushing the bottle away from her, but gets very unhappy if you let the nipple leave her mouth!

A is doing a great job of sitting up on our laps with minimal assistance. He has fantastic neck control. T, on the other hand, tends to lean over to her right repeatedly and isn't so great with her neck. A will give us his huge grin if we let him 'fly' on our shins while we lay on our backs. He's getting SO tall. We had to raise the straps for both car seats, and we probably should have done so earlier.

As of August 8, both are sleeping 10-12 hours. That's huge, although not as huge as the earlier leap from 2-3 to 8! We installed blackout blinds and sleep trained starting on the 17th. The first night, no crying. The second and third, about 2 minutes. The fourth? A good hour of one or the other, but never both, making their "I'm not happy" warbling. We'll see how the future goes.

Bath time is still a hugely mixed bag. After being ok with it for weeks, T went through a week+ long period of screaming her heart out the moment we set her down on the towel to dry her. We experimented with drying her sitting up: gut curdling screams. We experimented with getting the towel right next to the tub so there was no chance of getting cold: screaming until her entire tiny body turned red. We experimented with different towels: still sounded like a banshee had invaded. Finally we tried pulling the plug and letting the tub drain around her before drying her off. Happiness. Her brother, on the other hand? If you let him sit in the tub while it drains, you get body-wracking sobs. Apparently they're different kids!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Waking Up

As I move further out from the twins' birth, and as I come closer to feeling physically healthy again, I find myself increasingly sad that I'll never get to experience a "normal" pregnancy. Let's start with the obvious: I'll never be pregnant again. I had my TAC removed. As of my last ultrasound, my uterus is filled with new scar tissue. I'll turn 40 in less than 60 days. I only want 2 kids. Another pregnancy is not in the cards. Even if it was, there's approximately 0.02% chance of it being pleasant and normal.

I'm sad that I didn't get to enjoy A & T's pregnancy. Most things in my life, if they didn't go well the first time, I knew I could work hard and get a 'do over'. I trained for and rode a bike century in 2015. It was an awful experience. But it's ok, because I know I will someday train for and ride another, and with what I've learned it will go better. Hitting closer to home, my earlier pregnancies didn't end well, so I kept slogging through it and was somehow lucky enough to get to living children.

This pregnancy though, was awful. I had two weeks of enjoyment before the hyperemsis, combined with the crappy first ultrasound, just crushed any happiness. I was so sick I couldn't remotely enjoy being pregnant. Once the vomiting stopped, the nausea was still there up until the horrible rib pain started. Then the babies came too soon and I didn't get to hold them. I was scared for them. I got separated from them for days, and I had weeks of agonizing pain. There was absolutely no time that I got to enjoy being pregnant, or enjoy the early days of motherhood. Unlike that bike century, there's no do-again this time.

I don't feel motivated to 'get over' some of the grief in my life. My grief over losing the girls, I'm ok having that as a part of me. But this grief over a pleasant pregnancy and newborn experience? It's holding me down and I'm not ok with it. I want to move on. I felt a huge sense of relief when we scattered the girls' ashes and spent some time memorializing them. So I'll learn from that. I'm going to have a funeral for my dream of a normal pregnancy. A wake, perhaps. I'll get some good food, some good wine, and toast to that lovely dream. .  . and then let it go. It's a dream that deserves a nice send off, and I deserve the closure that send off can provide. So please, raise a glass with me to the passing of a dream.

Monday, August 5, 2019

A New Strength

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Later this month, my husband and I will have been married for 13 years. We've known each other for 22. We have been through a lot. Three houses. Years of long distance. Cross-country moves. Business ownership. Layoffs. Deaths in the family. Births in the family. Health scares and fertility treatments. Much can happen in 22 years, and much has happened. Now, 22 years in, I am more in love with him than ever, and more proud of and impressed by him as well.

When pondering kids, my last great worry was our marriage. I didn't want children if they would risk our marriage. I hear from so many people how hard babies are on relationships. I didn't want to damage mine. I have not. DH is the most amazing father and partner that I could hope for. For many years, I was the type-A planner and do-er of things. DH . . . wasn't. In the last four years, my health, physical and mental, has forced me to stop being the do-er. Rather than let life go by un-done, DH has stepped in and not only picked up my slack, but gone so far beyond in keeping our lives moving it's amazing. He's thoughtful and planful and takes care of things while caring for people far better than I could. During the years between my first MC and A and T's birth, he's been the responsible one and he's been there for me emotionally, too. 

Now, with the babies here, I am even more in awe of him. While in the hospital, he was diving in first, learning everything he could from the nurses. He changed diapers and took temperatures and gave first baths. When I was in too much pain to visit more than twice a day, he lived in the chair in their bay, one hand gently touching them (the most contact we were allowed to have) to calm them after cares and feedings. When we were allowed to do skin to skin, he was the first to hold Tess, after offering me the chance. From then on, he'd stay up until all hours of the night holding them if that's what was needed to calm them. Now that we're home, I've joked that DH will need the sleep training, as he's the one with the propensity to snuggle a baby rather than put him or her back in the crib!


The joy he takes in interacting with the babies is utter and in turn raises my own happiness. I honestly can not believe how lucky I am to have him as my husband and T and A's father. I never would have guessed that kids would make my marriage stronger, but seeing him care for the babies and me in every sense possible has done exactly that.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Baby Book: 5 Months

The babies are approaching six months old, four adjusted. Overall, they're doing fantastic. I chronicled my pregnancy by week so I'd have some record. I thought I'd do the same for the babies, by month. It'll be the electronic equivalent of a baby book. Some big observations:

Both are sleeping 8 - 10 hours a night most nights and started at 4 months actual/2 adjusted. Yes, I am bragging. 
Both have an inconsistent nap schedule, despite our best efforts. Neither is what I'd call a good napper. Yes, I am sad.
Both are eating 800-1000 ml/day.
Both are smiling and enjoy spending time with 'their' people. Nothing makes me happier than getting home to big smiles from them.
Both love balloons and spending time on their 'jungle' gym mat.
Both are ambivalent about going on walks in the stroller.

A is on the verge of rolling over. He can get from either his front or his back onto his side, where he gets stuck on his arm. If you push him over it, he freaks out and cries.
A is the happier baby. He'll smile more readily and for longer than his sister. In general, he will be happy in someone's arms longer than she will.
A is just starting to 'talk' now. He has fewer sounds, and tends to grunt and whine more.
A is the more deliberate eater, and the heavy dripper. A burp cloth is always needed under his chin when feeding him.
A found his thumb/hand well before T did, and started drooling first.
A dislikes the carrier, and likes the car seat only when the car is moving.
A sleeps fewer hours overnight, but often falls asleep shortly after the bedtime routine is done.

T is our big 'talker'. She found her cooing/phonemes much earlier than A. She's got a huge range of phonemes.
T has also found the 'little girl shriek'. My colleagues tell me this will last until about age 12. Please send ear plugs.
T has figured out how to use her hands, and can grab and tug on toys and balloon strings.
T is the more serious baby. She has a fabulous smile, but she'll want more time in her chair and less time being held compared to her brother.
T likes peeing on me during bath time. Every blasted night. Please send wine.
T enjoys being with me in the carrier and will fall asleep almost every time.
T is the better eater. She'll finish faster and more, and rarely leaves anything behind.
T sleeps longer overnight, but takes much longer to go down. That said, she can self soothe herself at naptime, just not at bedtime.

The differences and similarities are really fascinating. Their coloring remains very different. T has slightly darker skin, dark hair, and I'm pretty sure her eyes will be brown. A has more fair, sensitive skin. He's about as blond as they come and it appears he'll have blue eyes. Here are the two of them. I'm pretty sure A's whispering in T's ear, "Don't tell them it was me who drooled on your jumper!"

Monday, July 29, 2019

Microblog Mondays: Thank You, Universe

Welcome to Microblog Mondays! Want to learn more and read more? Head over to Stirrup Queens for the details!

One year ago today was trigger day for A and T's cycle. Three hundred and seventy five days ago was my baseline scan, where I saw an AFC that mimicked that from Alexis and Zoe's cycle. That day I sent a desperate plea out to the Universe for a similar cycle with a happier ending. Today, I got sleepy smiles from my daughter and my son as I left for work this morning. Today I'll get to go home to a house full of people, both big ones and tiny ones. Today I am grateful to the bottom of my soul (soles?) for how everything has gone, and for these fantastic babies. 

I mean, just try and resist smiling back at this fellow:


Thank you, Universe. I don't take it for granted.
Love, 

Me

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Another Birthday

Today is Quinn's second birthday. Today my daughter would be 2: running, smiling, looking forward to cake and presents. Instead, my heart breaks that she isn't here, that I never knew her, that her dad and siblings never knew her. My grief is fresh, despite the years and everything that's happened. It's at moments like these that A and T feel unreal. I'm not certain why, but I suspect it's because loss was my reality for so long that life seems almost unbelievable.

Logically I know that a day will come when I won't ache this badly for my missing girls, but that day isn't here yet. For now I comfort myself with Quinn's blanket from the hospital, her tiny footprints, and the memorial bears for each girl. How disheartening that of a beautiful, wonderful child, this and my memories and love are all that remains.

Love you always, Quinn.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Microblog Monday: Holy Grails

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Yesterday we experienced the Holy Grail for all parents. Well, perhaps the Holy-ish Grail, as I suspect the Holy Grail was having both sleeping through the night at once. That happened at the end of June.

This, this was something else. T and A were laying on their jungle play mat. T looked over at A, made eye contact, and smiled. A held onto the eye contact and smiled back. They kept up smiling at each other for nearly 5 minutes. I melted.

Years, losses, heartbreak, all soothed by the most amazing balm possible: my children smiling at each other.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Help!?!

Ladies, HALP!

I've been exclusively pumping for the 19 weeks since the babies were born. Breastmilk has been fortified with Neosure to raise calories since day 1. For the last ~8 weeks, due to supply issues, I've fed 50% fortified breastmilk/50% straight Neosure. There have been no issues.

I started back to work on Monday. Thursday, first Aaron, then both babies, started refusing bottles. This morning Adam gave them Neosure only and they slurped it down. Conclusion: they won't take my breastmilk any more.

Please tell me there's a fix to this! I have 300 oz frozen, and 1.5 days worth mixed that will have to be discared within the next 20 hours if they don't drink it. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Leftist

On Monday I reclaimed the left bathroom stalls at work.

Two years ago this month, while pregnant with Quinn, I walked into the bathroom, picked a stall on the left, and discovered I was bleeding. Three weeks later we said goodbye to her. I haven't been able to bring myself to use those stalls since.

Monday was my first day back after maternity leave. I walked in the bathroom, started to turn to the right, and then decided that with rainbows here, it was time to reclaim the left, so I did. Using a work potty has never felt so celebratory!

Monday, July 8, 2019

Unconditional Love

Every so often I've met a woman who expresses a desire to have a baby because the child will give her 'unconditional love.' This strikes me as wrong in several ways. First, if you want something to love you unconditionally, get a puppy. I've heard tales of way too many toddlers breaking their moms' hearts by declaring that they don't love mom! Dogs: not going to have that problem!

Second, I believe that every child deserves to be loved unconditionally by his or her parents. I know the world doesn't work that way, but I'd like it to, anyhow. As for the child, he or she can feel whatever they want in return.

I grew up with the strong belief that my parents only loved me conditionally. As far back as I can recall, I've known they did not want kids. They didn't even like kids. I was definitely not the exception. Whether intentional, unintentional, inaccurate, or accurate, throughout my childhood I felt that their love only came from meeting certain conditions: perfect grades, perfect behavior, being the child that best matched their wants. Alas, knowing that no child could match their wants made that an impossible task.

I was extremely fortunate because my grandparents retired and cared for me. They gave me all the unconditional love a child could hope for. I am so grateful to them for their presence in my life. . . and I'm also grateful to my parents for all the positive things they gave me that don't fit into this post.

Now, unconditional love isn't the same as unconditional support. If T turns out to be an axe-murderer, or A a Trump supporter, I'll still love them both, but I won't support their decisions. Maybe that's some sort of false dichotomy, but it feels fair to me.

When I look at A and T, I hope they'll know and feel my unconditional love as far back as they can recall. As for how they feel about me, well, my mother in law snapped the photo below of me holding Tess. Given the look on her face, maybe, just maybe, I'm getting a bit of unconditional love in return right now.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Then and Now

As the weeks pass with A and T, I'm struck by some of the differences in how I think now versus how I've thought and what I've experienced with past pregnancies. It's been interesting to me to observe the positives and the negatives, the similarities and the differences.

Overall, I'm grateful that my history isn't getting in the way of enjoying every moment with the babies, although it appears to have impacted my view of the future. Perhaps that's a good thing. I've spent so much of my life living for the future (e.g., "when I finish grad school, I'll . . ..", "when I get a promotion, I'll. . .", "when I have a living child, I'll. . ."). Maybe the true positive to come from all the pain and loss is that the now takes priority over the 'when', and is celebrated and savored in its own right.

What's Changed?

After giving birth to Alexis, Zoe, and Quinn, I'd wake up in the morning and after a split second be slammed by the painful realization that they were gone. It hurt, and it would be weeks before each wakening wasn't accompanied by that realization and pain. I hoped for a future 'when' it wouldn't hurt so much.

After giving birth to A and T, I'm slammed by the alarm waking me up to pump after no more than 2 hours of sleep. The middle of the night wakings are painful because I'm so tired, but the instant memory of why I'm doing this -the now that is A and T - makes it worthwhile.

When pregnant with Alexis, Zoe, and Quinn, I often thought about their future and what I wanted for them. I imagined family traditions and activities we'd engage in as they grew older. I looked forward to creating so many memories with them.

With A and T, I've found myself consciously cutting myself off when I think of plans for more than the immediate future. For example, when looking at the fire pit in our yard, I thought for a moment of the fun they might have hosting parties with their friends as teens, but then I forced myself to stop dreaming that far out. I know the reaction is the result of so much pain due to lost future dreams, and while there's no reason to think we won't have a long future with A and T, apparently my brain isn't ready to let me move that far ahead.

What's the Same?
With Alexis and Zoe's pregnancy, from the moment I knew they were healthy girls, despite the morning sickness, I enjoyed everything. With Quinn, I loved every moment of movement, every ultrasound.

With A and T, I'm enjoying every moment, every milestone. Last week the babies started 'talking' and I'm almost awestruck talking back to them and enjoying it all. Tess is smiling like crazy and I'll do just about anything to get to enjoy one of those smiles. Aaron started grinning this week, just after his sister. I enjoy every second. They've both found their hands in the last two weeks, and I am endlessly enraptured by watching them suck their thumbs or lick their fists. It's amazing and wonderful.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Hysteroscopy #8

Yesterday was hysteroscopy number 8. This was the 'third strike and you're (uterus is) out!' hysteroscopy. My OB just called to report that there were lots of calcifications and other 'crud' in my uterus. She can still see the holes from the clerclage, which I guess aren't healing well. Further, the pathology continues to show infection.

So I do another round of clindamaycin. Followed by a SIS and biopsy. And then we talk about next steps.

I got off the phone and snuggled babies, because, really, what else can you do after a call like that? Fortunately, these two make it so worthwhile!

A, being entirely adorable and happy.

T, making faces

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

AYFKM?!?

This has been a week of "are you effing kidding me?", but today sealed the deal. Warning, complaining ahead!

People say having kids is expensive. I hadn't quite realized the breadth of those expenses! The day we brought A home, our central heat died. In Minnesota. Two days before a snow storm.

The day we brought Tess home, our fridge died. With all my frozen breast milk inside.

After that, we looked hard at our infrastructure and decided that our decrepit washer and dryer should be replaced before they left us stranded and desperate with baby laundry. So we bought a fancy new set. Delivered Saturday before last. Would you like to guess what died yesterday? The dryer. The brand new dryer. Repair people will be out for their earliest appointment, next week. AYFKM?

Today was my hysteroscopy follow up. We did an ultrasound to check IUD placement. Result? There is STILL RPOC in my uterus AND my IUD has migrated and lodged in my cervix. AYFKM?

OB gave me four options, ranging from " do nothing and hope no infection sets in"  to "hysterectomy." Well, fuck. We're taking the middle approach of removing the IUD and doing another hysteroscopy to clear the RPOC. If this one still doesn't work, we'll talk hysterectomy.

I'm really ready for some good news. Please share your happy thoughts with me as I could certainly use them!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Microblog Monday: Something Ugly

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I've tried to be honest in this blog, even about ugly subjects. I feel the need to address one of the ugliest: gender disappointment. I was open during Alexis and Zoe's pregnancy that I preferred girls, and part of my unmitigated joy during their pregnancy was because they were both female.

When I got pregnant with Quinn, I spent the first 12 weeks convinced I was having a boy. There was a constant,  almost physically painful disappointment associated. I felt gutted that I'd gone from a pregnancy that was everything I could have dreamed of - twin girls - to something less - a single boy. Finding out Quinn was a girl brought the most amazing relief and joy. I sobbed sharing the news with family.

Oddly enough, this pregnancy I didn't feel the same level of worry about the babies' sexes. I had a preference for girls, but there wasn't the almost physical need to have two girls that I'd felt with Quinn. Likewise, there wasn't the deep preference I'd felt with Alexis and Zoe. I have no idea what changed, but something did.

The only time I felt really upset about the babies' sexes was when people would comment on how great it would be to "have one of each." I always wanted to respond that it would have been even greater to have the two girls we initially expected and wanted.

Now that the babies are here, there is zero disappointment. Zero regret about having "one of each" rather than two girls. While I can remember how many emotions related to my pregnancies felt, I can't even bring back the feeling of wanting only girls. I can bring back the fear from past pregnancies. I can bring back the grief over loss and NICU time. I can bring back the uncertainty if I'd ever get pregnant, or the anger over DH's SCSA results. I can't bring back anything related to gender disappointment. My family feels absolutely perfect the way it is.

Sometimes things go horribly wrong and work out in ways that are unexpectedly heart wrenching. I think I had forgotten that sometimes they go right and work out in ways that are unexpectedly heartwarming. I am thrilled that the babies I've got fall under the later category.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Remembrance

Earlier today, DH and I attended the Day of Pediatric Remembrance at the U of M's Masonic Children's Hospital. It's an event held for the families of children treated at the U of M who have passed in recent years. We were invited because that's where Quinn was born. When I RSVP'd, I also mentioned we needed to recognize Alexis and Zoe, and they were included in the program.

Let's just say that the day gave me all the feels.

We saw the social worker and chaplain that we knew from both our recent hospitalizations and from our time with Quinn. They both asked about A & T, and both told us that as soon as they saw my  name on the roster at Southdale, they checked in with Dr. Y to see what my status was. After the service was over they asked to see pictures of A & T. They recognized both the pain of our loss and the joy of A & T in a meaningful way. I was beyond touched, and so, so happy to see these two amazing women again.

It also felt wonderful to honor Alexis, Zoe, and Quinn. The last 14 weeks have been so focused on A & T that I was glad to spend some time on our other girls.

The rest. . . the rest was hard. Grief feels so isolating, so lonely. While DH has been amazing, and I've met other incredible loss moms who inspire me, I've often felt alone in my pain. During the program, each family shared a photo of their child. They ranged from NICU babies to late teens. Every one was absolutely beautiful and full of life in their photos. Being there with other families, seeing photos of their children reminded me of how much company we have. We are clearly not alone. That was both comforting and deeply heartbreaking as we stared at those photos of precious children who are no longer here.

How I wish we lived in a world where a day like this was unnecessary. However I'm very grateful to the U of M team for making this happen in the reality we do live in.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Forgiveness After Loss

I mentioned struggling emotionally while in the NICU. That's not the only way I've struggled. Life after loss is complex. There are so many conflicting emotions. My biggest struggle is how to look at past versus present.

I look at A and T and I love them so much. I can't imagine not having them in my life, getting to see them become the people they are going to be. I am so utterly grateful to get this chance. And yet, if Alexis and Zoe, or Quinn had survived, A and T would never have been born. So being completely grateful for them leaves me feeling disloyal to their big sisters.

At the same time, I can't bring myself to wish that A & T weren't here, because they are and I love them more than anything. It feels that no matter how I look at things, I'm being hurtful to some of my children: either Alexis, Zoe, and Quinn if I'm unreservedly happy about A and T, or to A and T if I feel sadness that I'm not getting to experience raising their big sisters.

I know this is all guilt I'm foisting upon myself, but I don't have a resolution for it. Maybe I don't need one, either. Maybe the reality is that life after loss is complex, and emotions are complex, and it's ok to feel what you feel. Maybe someday I'll believe that enough to forgive myself for those feelings.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Breast May Not Be Best

Going into this pregnancy, I knew that I really wanted to try to breastfeed. Every woman I personally know who has breastfed says it's incredibly hard and quite painful, especially at first. Most of them also say it's rewarding if you can make it through. Plenty of women on the internet seem to claim that pain is a sign 'you're doing it wrong', but I call B.S. on that!

So, we gave it a shot.

Due to their prematurity, the babies couldn't breastfeed, even attempt it, until about 33 weeks, so I pumped at first. At around 33.5 weeks, T started showing signs of cuing, so we tried breastfeeding. I was still in intense pain from my digestive system, especially when sitting upright, which complicated matters.

At the recommendation of the lactation consultant, I used a nipple shield. The process to breastfeed was awful. First a nurse would weigh the baby. I'd grit my teeth against the pain and sit upright. Using both hands, I'd place the nipple shield to draw my inverted nipples into it, then hand express milk into it. Once I was ready, I'd be passed the baby with all their monitoring wires attached. At that point, I'd try to get them to latch. T would latch then scream, twist her head back and forth, and tear the shield off my breast. That would send the expressed milk spilling down my front/bra, and I'd have to replace the shield and hand express more milk one handed, while holding her with the other. Not easy. Eventually she'd start sucking, but always after chomping down on my nipples at least once. Who knew gums could hurt so much? A would latch, then lay there looking up at me and never suck.

Those internet women who say breastfeeding shouldn't be painful? They often say you need the baby to have a wide latch. "Get the areola fully in the baby's mouth." Yeah, right. You try managing that while trying to hold on a nipple shield and working with a preemie whose mouth is the size of a dime!

Once we'd spent 15-20 minutes at this, the nurse would take her back and re-weigh her. One of the most crushing moments of our entire 8 week hospital stay was when they took her back, by which point I was shaking with pain from sitting upright, and told me she'd LOST a gram. Let me tell you, it's brutal to do something that hurts so badly, feel like you're torturing your child the entire time due to the screaming, and then find out you accomplished worse than nothing!

Over the course of 8 weeks, the best we ever transferred was 27 mls, which was half of the needed amount at the time. Since I needed to empty my breasts to keep building my supply, that meant I still needed to pump. Given my pain level from sitting up, eventually I started to prioritize pumping over attempting to breastfeed.

Pumping has been nearly as tough, although I can happily report that my pump doesn't ever scream at me when I put it to breast! My supply has hovered at 50-66% of what the babies need, despite everything I've tried to increase it. I power pumped for days on end. I tried pumping every 2 hours around the clock for 4 straight days. I tried drinking more, sleeping more, sleeping less. Hell, I even tried coconut water! No increase. I suspect this is partially due to all the retained placenta I had, but the surgery to remove it hasn't done much to increase my supply, so who knows?

I also have a great deal of nipple pain. Unless I'm in a hot shower or under a heating pad, my nipples constantly feel like they're being stabbed by needles. They often turn white or purple. My OB suspects that this is due to my Raynaud's syndrome, which apparently impacts breast tissue and not just hands and feet. WTF, body? Can you do nothing helpful? Apparently the answer is no.

I have a goal of 6 months of pumping. We all know I'm stubborn, so we'll see if I make it or not.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Scheduling my Breakdown

I've talked about NICU logistics. That's ignored the elephant in the room, tho: NICU emotions. Every single day we were in the hospital, each time I would lay down in my hospital bed to get a few minutes of sleep, I would think to myself that I wanted nothing more than to start sobbing and just break down for a while. And each time that happened, I would tell myself that it would be OK to cry, OK to let it all out, but not just yet. I'd tell myself I just needed to wait a bit longer. I told myself I could schedule my breakdown for sometime when we were out of the NICU.

Why did I need that outlet so much? Why did I want to sob so badly, night after night for weeks? Well, my life long habit is to do a quick mental evaluation of how things are going before sleep each day. During the NICU stay, the answer was that every single thing related to my pregnancy, to my delivery, to the babies, and to my recovery was not what I'd hoped for, except for the most critical thing: my babies were alive and would someday come home.

It feels awful to complain about how 'bad' things were, when I knew A and T would be ok. Yet, the pregnancy was completely awful, as was what followed. I didn't get to hold my daughter for nearly a week. I didn't get to hold my son for nearly 24 hours. I was in so much pain that the thing I wanted most in life at that moment - to be with my babies constantly - was impossible. I didn't get to keep my babies safe. I had to watch them struggle and have medical interventions that were heartbreaking to see. Breastfeeding was a dud. I wasn't going to get to go home from the hospital with both my children. I had to introduce them to their grandparents amidst proof of flu shots and vats of hand sanitizer. Everything I might have hoped for, I didn't get. Except that they were alive. And that's really the crux, isn't it? I'd have given up any of those earlier hopes to have kept Alexis, Zoe, or Quinn alive. Thus, I was conflicted in the emotional pain I was feeling. Heck, I *still* am conflicted in the emotional pain I'm feeling.

The babies are 13 weeks now, and I  no longer feel like sobbing due to dashed hopes. I might feel like sobbing due to lack of sleep, but that's somehow relieving as that's "normal". Someday I'll try to work through these emotions, but for this moment, I'll enjoy the snuggles and the everyday moments with my kids and be beyond thankful that we're all home safe together.


Sunday, May 26, 2019

NICU - A Long Post for a Long Journey!

The NICU was definitely an experience. For my own memory, and for the sake of anyone else wondering, I thought I'd share our experiences. Forgive the length! 

I delivered at a hospital that takes babies 30 weeks and older. It's part of the U of M system of doctors, so we saw the same neonatologists and MFMs we'd have seen at the U, but with a much smaller NICU for overall healthier babies. 

The general set-up of this NICU was a series of bays with 5 "beds" right outside the nursing station for the most critical babies. Any baby on oxygen would be found there. Beyond that, there was a single twin room, five rooms with dividers and two beds each, and on isolation room, for a total of 18 beds. When things got too busy/full, all the twins on the unit were crammed together in single rooms, so for a while Aaron was 'bed 20'! Our NICU was on the same floor as L&D and the OB surgical suites. The family unit was two floors up. 

Our NICU always had an NP on duty, along with a charge nurse and floor nurses. We were visited by OT 5 days a week for the first 5 weeks. Nutrition did consults about formula and TPN. Respiratory therapy was only involved when the babies were on oxygen. At delivery, the NP, charge nurse, respiratory therapist and a floor nurse were present for each baby and evaluated and whisked them off to the two most critical beds right in front of all the nurses. There's a photo of that below. DH mostly stayed with the babies, but came back to check on me once I was in recovery.  Once I was stable enough to be moved to the family care unit, they wheeled my hospital bed past the twins' bay, and I could see a tiny bit of them, all wrapped up with their CPAP and their IVs.


The first day I wasn't in too much pain, but kept vomiting from the dilaudid so I couldn't go visit them until evening. When I did, I was able to do skin to skin with A, which was unbelievably amazing. 

Both had slightly higher oxygen needs than were being met. The Dr. ordered surfactant treatment for their lungs to see if their oxygen needs could be reduced. Baby boy A responded well, but baby girl T didn't. They tried a second round for her, however by the 26th, they had to place her on the vent, and place a central line so they could draw more frequent blood gas readings without having to do heel sticks. Because she was more fragile and because she was on the vent, we couldn't hold her. In fact, they told us we should only gently place a still hand on her in her incubator, and not yet try to stroke her. Further complicating matters, by the 26th, I was in so much pain from my digestive system that I couldn't tolerate the wheelchair ride downstairs or sitting up in the babies' bay for more than a few minutes, meaning I only saw them once that day. 

During this early stage, the babies were being 'fed' custom mixed TPN via IV. I was pumping every 3 hours round the clock, and the babies were getting 'oral care' of q-tips with colostrum on them being placed in their mouths by DH and the nurses. There was one nurse assigned to each. 

By March 1, Tess was able to come back off the vent to CPAP. DH was able to hold her for the first time, as I was in too much pain to make another trip downstairs after having held Aaron earlier in the day. Aaron was off CPAP and onto nasal cannula with room air. By the 2nd, he was off even that! They started to receive donor breast milk via NG tube, to supplement the little I was producing (much more on that for a later post). 

I had been discharged from the hospital by the 27th. Because I was in so much pain, the car ride to and from the hospital was inconceivable, and the bays where the babies were only had rocking chairs, which I couldn't tolerate sitting up in for more than 20-30 minutes. While the hospital doesn't have any boarding rooms for NICU parents, in extreme circumstances, they allow parents to stay in unused L&D rooms. They call these 'parenting rooms'. They have my deep, deep thanks because they made a parenting room available to us, and that's where we lived for the entire 6 weeks until A was discharged. We'd trudge back and forth every three hours to bring what I'd pumped to the babies, and spend as much time with them as possible. 

The babies were on a schedule of 'cares' every 3 hours. This meant diaper change and feeding at a minimum, and also sometimes blood pressure and temperature checks. DH was amazing and started participating in cares as soon as possible. I joined in once I started to be in a bit less pain, around 2 weeks. We also had rounds once a day. DH and I made it an point to attend rounds every day, and we typically attended all cares except the 4am set, although we'd trade off who was present. 

On March 4, the babies 'graduated' to a second set of bays, slightly farther away from the nurse's station. On the 6th, they further graduate to a dual room, with one baby in each room. Aaron had been moved to an open crib by then, and Tess followed a day later. 

By the 13th, we started attempting to breastfeed with a shield. We started with T as she was cuing more frequently. It was tough. For the first several days, she'd just scream bloody murder when put to the breast and wouldn't suck. I was in so much pain sitting up, and my baby was screaming at me, and then I'd have to sit up to pump afterward. It was absolutely awful. Our third day of trying to breastfeed, we changed from a cradle hold to a football hold, and she took off. Over the course of our NICU time, she took anywhere from 0 to 27 ml orally. That wasn't enough for her calorie needs, so initially she was fed via NG, later by bottle. Our NICU does 'infant driven feedings' or IDF. This means that if you want to, they'll give you 72 hours of protected time where you try to breastfeed and the baby is 'topped off' via gavage. We started with T first, and actually went four days, until she could latch and transfer reliably without screaming. After that, we introduced bottles and she downed a complete bottle on the first try. Her OT said that was unheard of, and to expect that it would probably be a few days until she did it again. Instead, she downed a full bottle on her next feed too, and kept it up! Baby girl likes to eat!

Once we had T on bottles, A was doing better with cuing, so we started his protected time. It's utterly exhausting to have to try to feed for 30 minutes, pump for 30 minutes, wash pump parts, and then repeat 90 minutes later, around the clock. Doing that for two babies in a row, when still in intense pain, nearly did me in. I pulled back on breastfeeding after A's 72 hours, and just focused on pumping so they'd get breast milk. I didn't have great output, but I was keeping up with both of them at that point, especially because their milk was being fortified by Neosure to keep their calories up. 

Once both babies were finishing bottles regularly, our NICU stay came down to a waiting game. Two things had to happen for discharge: 5 days without an apnea/brady spell, and greater than 80% of feeds orally. To everyone's surprise, A nailed that before his sister due to her persistent bradys. While the doctors tried to swing it so that we could bring both home together, in the end A was ready just before 38 weeks and T needed another 2 weeks to stop bradying. In the end, both were home for Easter. 

Our NICU stay was extremely trying, and draining, but we are so grateful to the amazing care team that kept the babies safe. We learned so much from the nurses and the OT that we felt much better prepared as parents.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Too Tired for a Creative Title

Let's start with the amazing: the babies. They are absolutely incredible and my heart really overflows with love when I spend time with them. I truly could not be happier. They are all the challenge you would expect newborn twins to be, but I'm so, so happy to have the chance to experience that challenge.

Here's a photo from last weekend - how could I possibly not be crazy about these two?


Then there's the awful: my physical recovery. My c-section scar is great. My uterus, not so much. Had another operative hysteroscopy last week to clear out a lot of retained placenta. Pathology came back showing infection. My OB was amazed I'm not ragingly ill.

All of that is still better than my lower GI. Ulcers. Fissures. Prolapse. Hemorrhoids. Matters are still so bad, 12 weeks out, that my colo-rectal surgeon wants me to wait another 6 weeks before we even do the EXAM to see what surgery will have to entail. Colonoscopy and surgery will follow said exam. I am terrified of the recovery from that, as I'm still in intense pain on a daily basis and I know it will be unbearable after surgery, like it was for the first 2-3 weeks post c-section. I so badly want to be done with surgery and to be able to enjoy my parental leave time, but that's not going to happen.

I am grateful for every moment with these two, but I'm struggling with some of the emotions that parenting after loss entails. Things i didn't anticipate and will try to put words to later.

One that note, it's time to go deal with a fussy baby. I couldn't be happier to do so!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Easter Bunny v Stork

I've always heard that the stork brings babies. Apparently that's not quite right. In our case, the Easter bunny welcomed both babies home from the NICU!


We are overjoyed, exhausted, and a bit scared, and it's all wonderful! Baby boy has actually been home for about two weeks, but his sister kept having bad apnea/bradycardia spells that required intervention to resolve. She has now gone 6 days without any spells during sleep, which is what the neonatologists wanted for discharge. She does still have spells that require us to intervene during feeding  which is terrifying. Fortunately we can now recognize them with relying on the monitors, and resolve with just tactile stim. she should grow out of them as time passes. Till then, she's on apnea precautions and we're a bit scared but thrilled to be able to love on her at home!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Other Roller-coaster

In the past, I've ridden the ART roller-coaster: each bout of good news is followed by bad news. As my pregnancy progressed, I thought I was finally done with the roller-coaster. Nope! Now there's the NICU roller-coaster.

The babies have gone from CPAP to needing the vent to CPAP again to room air. Baby girl continues to have some challenges with oxygen sat levels and reflux, but is gaining weight. Baby boy was having bradys, but has mostly stopped and has great sat and heart rate numbers. Over the course of two weeks, we've gone from one on one nursing care for each baby and the fear that baby girl would have to go to a different hospital to "just" being feeder/growers. It's a roller-coaster, but it's looking up.

Here's a picture of DH with both babies on the day we were in the room where both could be held at once. We're in new rooms now, so we can't hold both until they come off the monitors to go home.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Finally My Lines Now

Please allow me to introduce the two newest loves of my life: Tess and Aaron. She's the brunette, he's the blond.


 I started contracting again during my parents of multiples class last night. They kept getting closer, so we called and went in. At that point they were 3-6 minutes apart, and within an hour the cervical pain was constant. The decision was made to do a c-section ASAP.

Despite the fact that it was 11 pm and she was not on call, my OB came in for my c-section. Because of the concern of hemorrhage, and the challenge of cerclage removal, the on-call OB from my practice also came in. Several of the nurses were the same who were in triage for my Jan admission. Everyone was so thrilled for us.

Baby girl was born a few minutes before midnight, weighing in at 3lbs 11oz. Her brother was born a minute later, and was 3lb 7oz. They are so beautiful to me, although I've only barely seen his face. No hemorrhage and cerclage came out clearly!

Alas, I've been puking too much to go downstairs and see them. So, so sad about that.

Both babies are on CPAP, otherwise doing well. One day at a time. I'm still on heavy meds, so apologies if this makes no sense. Trying to keep from going mad waiting to see them again.

Friday, February 15, 2019

30w3 Days: Grateful but Struggling

Still pregnant at 30 weeks and 3 days! Just four days left to hit our 31 week milestone, and I’m even home again. To say I’m grateful is a massive understatement.

I’m also struggling. I feel like a bomb whose fuse has been lit, but can’t be seen, so there’s no way of knowing when the explosion will happen. Each contraction I get during the day makes me think: is this the start? Will I have to go in again? Each time I wake up at night and everything hurts, I wonder if it will turn into the same contraction pain I had a few weeks ago. I’m just bloody scared.

At the same time, I’m 30 weeks! I’d have given anything to be 30 weeks and scared in my past pregnancies. It’s an easier scared than 19 weeks and pPROM’d. Maybe it’s fair to say this is scared and that was terrified.

I’m not keeping up well. I’m trying to work when not in the hospital (actually I worked a ton while I was in this time, taking conference calls at all hours to try to wrap things up). It’s good due to the distraction, but it’s hard because I never know which action items I take on that I’ll get to complete and which will be dumped on someone else if/when I am out again. I’m not keeping up with friends and family as well as I’d like, because everything just seems harder right now. I guess that’s what fear does to you. Well, fear and a 30 week twin pregnancy with regular contractions!

Thank you to everyone for keeping us in your thoughts. That really helps with the scared and it’s so, so appreciated, even if I’m not doing a good job of saying so, or staying up to date here. It’s so comforting to know these babies have people all over rooting for them, along with their big sisters and great-grandparents. That gives me hope.

Monday, February 11, 2019

29.6 from the hospital

Alas, no news really meant: my cellphone forgot my account password and I'm stuck in the hospital and couldn't look it up.

Same basic story: started having painful contractions every 7 minutes and went in where they were confirmed via monitoring. MFM made the decision to try to keep me pregnant for a few more days with the hope of getting a rescue dose of steroids and mag in. Good news: dose is in as of midnight tonight. Bad news: having lots of contractions through the tocolytics. I'm not super optimistic that we're going home again still pregnant this time.

Had another NICU consult today and they really pushed that 31 weeks is when everything gets better, so I'm hoping for 8 more days, but don't know how realistic that is. Hopes, prayers, good juju, all are appreciated.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Home Again!

Our first day in Antepartum, I told DH that my goal was to leave the hospital without memorial bears this time. We have three bears, two given to us when we delivered Alexis and Zoe, and one from Quinn. They're part of the loss program at each hospital we delivered at. Don't get me wrong, I love our bears to death, talk to them, and am grateful to have them. They remind me of our girls, in a good way. That said, I didn't want to add two more because it would mean we'd lost these babies, too.

Today we went home without any bears! Best of all, we went home with me still pregnant! No one can predict how long that will last, but everyone is hopeful we'll get a few more months of inside babies.

Thank you so much for the amazing good wishes and thoughts and prayers - I believe they helped! I'm on work from home restrictions until delivery because I do contract when I'm up and moving, but that's totally do-able! If my uterus can just stay calm for 10 more weeks, all will be well! So, so grateful!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

28 Weeks and Still Pregnant!

I think the whiteboard in our room says it all. 28 weeks today!

Last night was fantastically boring. I have to do monitoring 3 times a day. Morning monitoring showed only one contraction and best of all, it was just a Braxton Hicks! The on-call MFM, who is my absolute favorite and the one who delivered Quinn, says that if I can stay with only BH for two days after the tocolytics stop, I can go home!  She's positive about our chances. Ultrasound tomorrow to check baby weight and cervix length and cerclage tension.

It's hard being here in the same place we were with Quinn, but I'm so glad to have good care and hope for the babies.

Here's my hospital bathroom photo. Haute couture in my pjs!

Send good, calm uterus thoughts to us?

Monday, January 28, 2019

Hospital Again

The title says it all. Woke up around 1:45 to painful, constant contractions. Called the OB at 2:30 when they hadn't stopped. Went to local triage where they confirmed I was actively contracting. Sent by ambulance to the University Hospital. Have done round 1 of betamethasone and am on magnesium and indomethacin. So badly want to keep these babies in, and while contractions have died down, they're not gone. So sad and scared. These babies need to stay inside for so much longer. I knew the risks of prematurity with TAC twins, but I've been counting on 33 to 35, not 28.

Come on, uterus, work with us. Keep them safe.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

27 Weeks!

Amazingly, despite all my fears, we've made it to 27 weeks. I go in for a growth scan on Wednesday, and I'm hopeful baby boy is keeping up with his sister. Ideally they'll both be over 2 pounds by now. I have honestly no idea how my body can hold up for another 10+ weeks. My OB is saying c-section at 38, which is late for TAC twin moms. Heck, it's late for TAC singleton moms! Having said that, I don't really think I'm likely to make it to 38, and if I do and it means no NICU time, that's worth the pain. 

My awesome coworkers gave us a shower last week. It was so deeply meaningful, given our past. With my gluten issues, it's been 10+ years since I've enjoyed a slice of cake with frosting, so I decided to bring my own to the party. I'm actually pretty happy with how it turned out! 

DH and I had round two of 'the talk' this weekend. You know, 'the talk' where you decide on baby names? What, you were thinking of a different talk? ;)  The end result is that I think we've got names we're both happy with. It seems unreal to be giving names to babies who will have to live with them for their entire lives. Also, coming up with a total of four girls' names that DH and I both like is . . . well. . . I have NO idea how those with large families do it! I'm glad our first three girls got names we loved, but it's made it much harder for this little one! I definitely understand why they re-used names in Victorian times.

  How far? 27 weeks!! They pretty much all merit exclamation points by now! :)
  Measuring? I won't know for sure until Wednesday. Hoping to be over 2 lbs by now. 
Size? Cauliflower!
  Heartbeat? We'll see on Wednesday
  Total weight gain/loss: Up 23 to 141. 
  Stretch: No change.
  Sleep: Somewhere between bad and awful. I've reached a point where for the first four or so hours I'm trying to sleep, I wake up every 45 minutes with a combo of acid reflux and vomiting. That's fun when in bed. I'm a lousy sleeper to begin with, and trying to sleep while sitting up isn't working outstandingly well.
  Movements? Kicks, taps, rolls. Love it! The movement is the one bright spot in an otherwise rough pregnancy.
  Cravings? I don't think this is going to happen. Aversions I still have plenty of, but cravings just don't come around. Since I have my GD test this week, I'm trying to go back to my TTC way of eating: no sugar, no processed food. I know that will increase the nausea, but if I do have GD, I'll need to figure out how to eat this way anyhow. Please, please let me pass the one hour.
  Miss? Same as always: I miss feeling good. I miss getting to enjoy this pregnancy, but it's made me so appreciative of Quinn's pregnancy. It's also interesting to see how the intersection between actual physical symptoms and loss impacts my perception of enjoyment. With Alexis and Zoe, I felt this bad, but I was so happy at all points after the CVS because I thought I was bringing home healthy babies. With Quinn's pregnancy, I was more emotionally cautious, but I felt good for about a month and really enjoyed the heck out of that time. This time, with these guys, I feel consistently awful and I'm terrified of another loss. There have been moments, literal moments when the nausea backed off and the pain wasn't there that I was happy and grateful to be pregnant, but this time I can't muster the overall happy I had in 2016, nor the enjoyment from 2017.
  Looking forward to? Being done with our basement reno and seeing the babies again!
  Feeling? Very, very pregnant.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

26 weeks!!

How far? 26 weeks!! 90% shot at survival on the outside! 77 days left, at max.
Measuring? I won't know for sure until the 23rd. Hoping to be just over 2 lbs by now. 
Heartbeat? 140's and 150's.
Total weight gain/loss: Up 21 to 139.   Stretch: No change. 
Sleep: Still no changes. Laying down or standing up mitigates the pain in my ribs, but makes me crampier and leads to hip pain. I've noticed that I've gone from sleep as my refuge to sleep as one more thing to make it through.  Movements? Yep. Baby girl is my active one, I feel her the most. Baby boy is either less active or I just feel him less. He is the only one to kick my cervix, though, because he's a bit lower. I think he flips breech to head down much more often than she does.
Cravings? No. I just feel terrible every time I eat. I've been weaning off the reglan and that's meant a resurgence of nausea. I'm back to first tri mode: feel great for 5 minutes after eating then feel terrible like eating was the worst idea in the world for 2-3 hours, then get hungry again. 
Miss? Not having rib pain. Eating healthy and not retching afterward.  
Looking forward to? Being done with our basement reno and seeing the babies again on the 23rd. 
Feeling? The rib pain is no joke. I'm ok some days, awful others. I also threw up again this weekend. If I thought it was hard not to pee when puking during the first trimester, oh boy did I have no appreciation for what would happen during the second tri! 


Monday, January 14, 2019

Emotions, shadows, and remembrance

When my mom was here, I made the mistake of sharing with her that we were considering naming these babies in honor of their big sisters: Alexander Quinn and Zoe Hope. It's an idea I tossed around. While I'm not super serious about it, it's a possibility. It seems like a way to honor our missing children in a positive way for those who are here. I also said that I am a mom to three, soon to be five, and that's not going to change no matter what. I don't foresee myself mentioning the girls much, but I do intend to celebrate their birthdays each year. I don't want these guys to grow up in anyone's shadow, but I still want to honor my girls. 

A few weeks later my mom informed me that I shouldn't name the new babies after their big sisters. She said it would be too hard for them and they'd always feel subordinate to their missing siblings. She was pretty adamant about it. Mentioned a family friend who lost her first child to SIDS, and whose second child apparently always felt not good enough compared to his missing sister. I recall the second kid - He struggled with learning disabilities and his mom was both strict and a teacher, so perhaps his feelings had more to do with how that was handled than his sister, but who knows?

While I think we'll chose different names entirely of our own volition, the idea that I shouldn't mention my girls to their siblings to prevent them from being shadowed has really eaten at me. 

Last week I attended my pregnancy after loss support group. It's facilitated by a nurse who had a stillbirth many years ago, then two living children. I mentioned the interaction with my mom, and she shared her experience which was super comforting to me. Specifically, she said that she used to celebrate her lost daughter's birthday each year. As her living son got older, he eventually told her that celebrating his sister's birthday made him realize how important HE was - that even if he wasn't there, he'd still be celebrated and loved. For him, it reinforced the notion that family is important, even if not all family members are here with us. 

I love that. That's what I want to give all of my children. The facilitator also mentioned that she'd always set the context with her kids that it's ok to feel any emotion. It's ok to be sad that someone isn't there, and it's ok to not be sad, too. That really struck me, because the belief about emotions that I internalized from my mom was that sadness and grief are not ok, ever. You can be angry, you can be happy, but other than that, you should be strong, and strong women don't grieve. I don't know if that's the message she meant to give me, but it's what I got. It's not how I live my life, and it's not what I want for my kids, so the support group experience was so valuable to me. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

24 Weeks

It's January. It's January 2019, and that means we've made it to viability. I don't want to meet these kids for ~3 more months, but if anything goes wrong now, they have a good chance of survival. Wow.

I expected to be completely, utterly, 100% thrilled. Instead I was completely, utterly, 100% grateful for these babies, but knock-me-off-my-feet sad that their big sisters couldn't make it this far. Three fiber bands are the difference between survival and not. Three fiber bands are the reason these guys are still safe and Alexis, Zoe, and Quinn aren't. That hurts my heart. That something so simple could have saved my girls, if we'd known back then. I'm not calling the surgery or my recovery simple, but still . . . .

I appear to be reaching the 'uncomfortable' stage of pregnancy, although that's a bit of a joke given how the first tri went for me. Now it's stabbing pain near my gallbladder and ever increasing hip pain at night. I know I'm just at the beginning, so I'm trying not to kvetch too much now, but some kvetching is happening!

How far? 24 weeks!
Measuring? At 23.1, they were 1 lb 4 oz and 1 lb 5 oz. I'm hoping that means we've got 1.5 lb babies by now.
Size? Cantaloupe.
Heartbeat? 140's and 150's.
Total weight gain/loss: Up 20 to 138.
Stretch: No change.
Sleep: Eh. No real changes. Really, really tired all the time. The cerclage makes it painful when my bladder gets full, so up frequently to pee. My hips hurt when I sleep on my sides. It's right where the bursa are, so I'm assuming bursitis, or maybe just pain/pressure due to weight gain? No idea.
Movements? Tons! I love it, although it still freaks me out when baby boy kicks my cervix repeatedly. I tend to holler at him: "don't mess with the exit!"
Cravings? No. Still feel like crap after I eat.
Miss? Fewer burps. Fitting into my normal winter coat!
Looking forward to? Setting up the nursery once the basement reno is done. DH went out and bought the cribs on New Year's Day, so we're on our way.
Feeling? It varies a lot. I had some BAD nausea over the holidays. It seems to have died back again, but I doubt it's gone for good. Bad heartburn and increasing discomfort. Fun times!
Comparisons to last time? No longer relevant, as by last time my babies were gone. So, so grateful to be here.