Thinking before you speak when it comes to infertility

Unsolicited comments are a constant in today’s society, especially with the prominence of social media. Thus, during my time undergoing fertility treatments I experienced no shortage of, let’s call them “unfiltered” remarks. Similar to that of comments made to a pregnant woman (minus the lovely ones like “don’t you look beautiful” or, “congratulations”), comments made to those struggling with infertility should, for the most part, be kept to yourself. Actually, I might even go so far as to say any comments regarding a woman’s body, unless solicited, are better left unsaid! While these comments are often well-intended, they usually translate as hurtful and annoying.

The vast majority of infertile women and couples keep their diagnosis to themselves for this very reasons! Thus, you may not know that someone you are communicating with is suffering from this otherwise invisible disease. But, if you are one of those people that just can’t seem to keep their mouths shut, I have compiled a list of things to never say to a couple struggling to build a family, or any female of what you would classify as “prime child-birthing age” who has not yet conceived.

  1. Just relax!! Oh how I HATE this one. As someone who suffers from generalized anxiety disorder and OCD, relaxing is about the last thing I can ever do. And you telling me to relax just brings out more crazy. Studies show that everyday stress does not cause infertility. And honestly, most of us probably weren’t so stressed out until we realized we weren’t getting pregnant easily!
  2. Why don’t you just do IVF? IVF is often seen as ‘the end of the road” when it comes to fertility treatments. Most couples go through multiple tests, treatments, etc. before finally taking the IVF leap. And actually, many couples get to the IVF crossroads and do NOT take that leap. IVF is extremely expensive, approximately $12k per cycle in the USA – not including genetic testing! And a lot of times it takes more than one round. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t just have $30k lying around. We had to open a new credit card, save money, and look to family for assistance. Many people don’t have those options! And some need donor eggs, donor sperm, donor embryos or surrogates, which can increase one cycle by tens of thousands of dollars!

In addition to being expensive, IVF is emotionally and physically draining and it is not the ultimate solution in every case. Some couples go through multiple rounds without every carrying a pregnancy to term! Not to mention the rigorous injection schedule, numerous ultrasounds, body and health restrictions, mood swings, and more. So don’t just assume we can “do IVF”.

  1. You can always adopt! Adoption is an amazing option for some families. But it is not one that most people jump to. The adoption process takes a very long time, and again, it is not a guarantee. And it is extremely expensive. And it doesn’t erase the fact that it is not a biological child.
  2. You already have one. So what if I have one? Or two or three of four? It doesn’t make the fact that you are not conceiving any less hurtful! Secondary infertility is a real thing. It is still a dream dashed. I hope to live in a world where someday all families can be as big as they would like, and are capable of providing for. Some people have SO much love to give.
  3. Count your blessings that you don’t have a real illness. Fact check! Infertility is a disease recognized by the World Health Organization! Of course it is not on the same level as cancer, but it is still a disease that causes pain and requires intervention. Don’t be the judge of who deserves sympathy and prayers, and who does not.
  4. You’re still young, you have plenty of time! That is not always the case. While a woman’s ovarian reserve diminished as she ages, conditions like endometriosis, PCOS, premature ovarian syndrome can occur early in very young women. Some, like myself, have unexplained infertility.
  5. Stop trying and it will happen. Ah, yes. One of my favorites. How the heck are you supposed to get pregnant in the first place if you aren’t doing the baby dance? I mean, I know you don’t have to technically have sex to get pregnant via IVF, but at that point you are really trying. And for many couples tracking ovulation, fertile days, etc., are how they get pregnant. Sex is key to getting pregnant. Stopping surely won’t improve your chances.
  6. Who is the problem, him or her? REALLY?? Does it really matter which person is having the issues? Maybe it’s both. Maybe it’s neither (unexplained infertility), but we don’t need you poking and prodding into our personal lives. What matters is WE are struggling.
  7. Oh, look at that little bump, are you pregnant? NEVER ask a woman if she is pregnant if you aren’t 100% sure of the answer. Do you really need to know that badly? If so, ask someone else close to her if they know. If you don’t know anyone close to her, you probably don’t really need to know. Or you might get an answer you don’t expect. Like, maybe I’m just bloated from all the shots I’m giving myself in the stomach each day and I gained 5 pounds from my last unsuccessful round of IVF. Oh, and my ovaries feel like they are going to explode. And I have gas.

 

I know we are all curious about what is going on around us, but infertility is an invisible disease and you never know what feelings you might stir up by asking a simple, unsolicited question. Rather than asking these questions, start advocating for infertility treatment and coverage. Share your sympathy with a friend. Bake them cookies or send them a card. Let them know you care and that you are thinking about them.

Understand that they may not want to go out on Friday night because they are afraid that one glass of wine will ruin their chances. Recognize that they may not want to go to a baby shower because it will hurt too much. Let them know it is OK to be upset that your best friend is pregnant, after all, you’re happy for them but sad for yourself.

Offer to be there when they need you, but don’t push when they don’t want to talk about it. Try to talk about things other than your kids. Don’t let the conversation always revolve around pregnancy and babies. They will appreciate your effort and kindness more than you know.


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A Festivus Miracle!

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We are pregnant. Naturally. Even writing it down I still can’t believe it. Even after multiple pregnancy tests, blood draws, and ultrasounds; I still find myself doubting that it is true. I just never thought a natural pregnancy (or even another pregnancy at that matter) was in the cards for us. But here, as I live and breathe and type, I am pregnant.

When we first visited our fertility doctor, we were given about a one percent chance of conceiving naturally. It may have even been less, I don’t fully recall. All I know is that that one tiny percent…I threw it out the window. I cast it away as a never. A not possible. And we dove straight into fertility treatments. And as you all know, they worked. Not right away, but those treatments, all of that money spent, all the tears all the heartache, they brought us our sweet, beautiful miracle baby girls. All my dreams had come true. And it was enough.

However, growing up I had always imagined having three kids. I grew up in a family with three children, and it just seemed like the perfect amount. So when the girls turned one, Nick and I had a discussion and agreed to try for one more baby. We were going to TRY to expand our family. We knew it was a long shot, and I promised that if in the end, we were still a family of four, that I would be OK. Because they were ENOUGH.

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But I knew a part of me would always wonder, “what if”, if we never tried. I figured we would try naturally for about a year, and then try some fertility treatments. But IVF wasn’t really an option, at least not for the foreseeable future. After all, we spent a LOT of money the first time around, and had just bought a new house and a new car. We didn’t have $12-15k+ to spend on IVF again. And that would be assuming it worked the first time around. So, while I was very excited to try, I had VERY low expectations.

I had my first post-partum period exactly 29 days after I stopped nursing the girls on their first birthday. For me, that was amazing! My cycles had always been 34+ days, so 29 days was astonishing. We “tried” between my stopping nursing and that first cycle, I was REALLY hoping that if we could catch that first egg it would be perfect. No such luck there.

The first cycle after 22 months without a period is NO JOKE. Holy cramps, holy murder scene, holy hormones. It was a rager (I know, TMI, but pretty much everything about TTC is TMI, right?). I stocked up on OPKs, pregnancy tests and began to track my cycle again. Except, I couldn’t temp accurately because I was up at least once a night due to the twins’ sleep regression. So I put all my TTC eggs in the OPK basket. It looked like I ovulated around day 23. Pretty typical for me.

Once I reached day 40 with no period, I allowed myself to get kind of excited. I was “late”. Maybe this was it?? When trying for the girls, I was almost never late. Maybe one day once or twice. But there I sat, staring at my stark white pregnancy test. And all of the emotions and heartache and disappointment came flooding back. It was like they never left. And If I’m being completely honest, I don’t think they ever did. Once infertile, always infertile. It is a time in your life that you never quite get past.

So, because I am always one who needs to try something “new” each cycle. I did a bit of research on some vitamins I could add to my diet, and came across Vitex (more on this in a future post). From what I had read, it could help to shorten and regulate women with long, irregular cycles. Sounded perfect for me. Reviews said it would take about 3 months to make any real difference, but with a small price tag what did I have to lose?

It was that cycle, that I got pregnant. The SECOND real cycle postpartum. I bet you are as shocked as I was! I ovulated 3-4 days earlier than usual, and took a pregnancy test the day before Christmas eve. At that point, I was a couple days “late” but didn’t think anything of it. I took the test because I knew I would be drinking wine and mimosas galore over the Christmas holiday.

Nick ran out to pick up breakfast for me and the girls, and while he was gone I mustered up the courage to take a test. I watched the control line change to pink but the rest of the test remained white. I cursed, I cried, and asked God why he was getting my hopes up (like it was His fault?). I washed my hands and came back to the test to throw it away, and that is when I saw it. A second, pink line. HOLY CRAP. Was I imagining things? Was this really happening to me? No way!! But there it was, as real as could be. I dug through my bathroom cupboards and found an old digital pregnancy test that was expired, but I took it any way. And that was positive too!!

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I quickly thought of a way to surprise Nick before he got home. The twins’ Advent calendar! It was a Santa Claus that hangs on the wall, with a little velvet sack filled with magnetic cotton balls. Each morning they would take turns pulling out a beard ball and sticking it on Santa’s beard. I stuck the test in the bag, and when Nick returned home I told Nick we had to do the Advent calendar before we forgot. Rosie (or was it Leni, haha) pulled the test out and handed it to a confused Nick. It took a minute before he realized what it was (that’s why I took a digital, because two lines on a pee stick would have meant nothing to him) but when he did, boy was he shocked! And excited. And terrified.

We spent the next couple of days surprising our family. This was how I had always imagined pregnancy would be. Surprising family members. Not waiting for scheduled beta tests, when everyone already knew the date we would “find out”. It was so exciting.

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Fast forward to today and our announcement. It has not been any easy several weeks, but so far, the pregnancy is progressing perfectly, and the baby is healthy. Which is all we could hope for.

I still question why we are so blessed, when there are so many others out there still trying to have their first child. We are good people, but by no means are we saints. Do we really deserve this miracle? Are we worthy? I am excited, but so saddened and heartbroken for others.

We promise to never take our children, natural or IVF, for granted. And we vow to be the best parents possible, and to love them unconditionally. For we are blessed beyond measure, and for that we will be forever grateful. From 1% chance to 100% miracle.

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Baby C #3 is due August 26, 2018.

More to come.

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One More Shot – Documentary Review

I just finished watching the documentary, “One More Shot”, on Netflix.

Guess what?

I am still crying.

This film is so real. So truthful, so heart wrenching, so me. In 90 minutes this movie managed to completely transport me back in time and to accurately explain the roller coaster of emotions we went through just over two years ago.

ONE. MORE. SHOT.

A perfect title that can be interpreted in many ways. One more shot of medication. One more blow to your heart after another negative pregnancy test. One more attempt at conceiving. One more shot of tequila to numb the pain. Or, one more chance at a miracle.

The story follows a couple in their early thirties as they try to expand their family and navigate the uncharted waters that are infertility. They aren’t a glamorous Hollywood couple. They aren’t doctors or scientists who know all about infertility. They are the couple down the street that stop over on Thursday night for a glass of wine. The couple you pass in the grocery store while looking for a ripe watermelon (how DO you know if a watermelon is good??). And they are the couple that sits across from you at the fertility clinic, wondering how long you have been trying, if you were already pregnant, or if you had just suffered another loss. The ones whose eyes you meet before heading back for your consultation who can tell you with just one look that they understand.

There were several moments in the film that I could identify with, but there were also several that I could not. This couple suffered longer than we did, and more loses. But, some points that really hit home for me, were:

 

The fear of the unknown.

As an OCD, control freak, I spend every spare moment planning, making lists and setting goals. Infertility was something I knew nothing about, and treatment had no guarantees. Yes, there were dozens of options for starting a family, but nothing was guaranteed. I often thought to myself “I would go through this 10 times, spend $100k if someone, somewhere could promise me that it would all end with a baby in my arms.” But the truth of the matter is, they can’t. And the fact that I had no control over the outcome was debilitating.

 

Feeling broken.

Nick checked out OK. Borderline for sperm morphology but otherwise, good for baby making. This made me feel like it was all MY fault. That I was broken. I couldn’t do the thing women were SUPPOSED to do – make babies. I feared this would break our marriage, and I feared it would break me.

 

The shots hurt.

Those shot were NOT a walk in the park. They hurt like a b*tch! They left me sore, bruised and hormonal.

 

Punishment.

Was I being punished for sneaking out of the house in high school? Or for that time I swiped some beer mugs from a college bar? Or for all of the things I have taken for granted or selfishly just assumed would happen?

 

IVF is the ultimate “treatment”.

When we started at our clinic, we were given a less than 1% chance of conceiving naturally. So we jumped straight into IVF. And we were positive it would work. When it didn’t work the first time, it was an even bigger blow. The miracle treatment we had just shelled out $15k for was a bust. It’s hard to pick up the pieces after that.

 

Obsession.

The sheer obsession of all of it. I think infertility made me a hypochondriac/Google genius. I spent all of my free time Googling symptoms, or lack thereof, grants, adoption, embryo donation. I needed to constantly feel like I was being proactive.

 

The comfort of knowing I was not alone.

From the moment I made my blog public, it was like the heaviest weight was lifted off my shoulders. The out-pour of love and well wishes we received was amazing. But what was even more amazing was the number of women who messaged me and said, I understand. I too, am suffering from infertility. I too, find it hard to be happy for my friends having babies. I too, am scared.

 

This documentary was everything I never knew that I always needed. I think it is something that every struggling family should watch. And all of their friends and family. And everyone else. It is relatable, funny when it needed to be, and informative. I highly recommend that you check it out now on Netflix. You won’t regret it. The only thing you might regret is forgetting the tissues, or that you didn’t watch it sooner.

And for all of the women, men and couples out there trying to grow your families, find hope and comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Infertility is hard. It will push you, it will test you, and it will break you. But there is a light at the end of that tunnel. There is always another option – maybe it’s another crack at IVF. Or maybe it’s a surrogate. Perhaps it is coming to terms with never being parents. Or maybe it’s adoption. Whatever it is, make sure it is YOUR decision. Not anyone else’s. And let that decision be the one that puts you back together again.

The new twin mom’s Christmas list

With my favorite holiday right around the corner, I thought I would compile a list (a “Christmas list”, of sorts) of the things I could not have survived without during my first year as a new twin mom. I REALLY wish someone would have shared this with me when I was pregnant or right after the birth of my girls. Some of the items on this list I received as baby shower gifts, others I purchased during the girls’ first year, and a couple I do not personally own but were recommended by other twin mommies. I have included links so you can purchase them yourself, or throw them on your own registry.

**The majority of these products would work for moms of singletons, too!**

  1. TWIN Z NURSING PILLOW (or any other comparable double nursing pillow, like the My Breast Friend)

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This pillow was an absolute LIFE SAVER. Definitely worth the hefty price tag (I actually purchased mine from a fellow twin mom, and then sold it to another twin mom!). It is great for tandem nursing, single nursing, holding babies, propping up babies with bottles, tummy time and more! You can even get various covers for it (I recommend water proof, a lot of milk drippage and puke will end up on it)!

 

  1. LARGE DIAPER BAG

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I went with a cute, large, JuJuBe diaper bag and I absolutely love it. It fits everything I need, and it isn’t horrendously ugly. Another $$$ purchase but worth the splurge. One thing I might have changed, or purchased in addition to, would have been a backpack diaper bag. But this one had a long enough strap that I could wear cross-body and still be hands free to carry my girls. 15 months later I still use it almost every day and am pretty sure it will last me through a potential baby #3, as well.

 

  1. HANDS-FREE PUMPING BRA

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DO NOT LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THIS. Truth. Anywhere my pump went, so did this bad boy. I only purchased one, and I will admit it looks pretty gross now, but it was so convenient. While pumping at home I could enjoy my coffee, while pumping in my office I could work, while pumping in my car I could drive….you get the picture. If you don’t want to buy one, or are in a pinch, you can cut small holes in and old sports bra and it works just about the same!

 

  1. SLEEP SACKS/SWADDLES (lots)

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Every baby is different, but my girls loved their sleep sacks and swaddles. Now you can be one of those moms that swaddles by hand with a blanket, but who really has time for that, times 2? Also, my husband was a better swaddler than me so having these helped keep him from continuously rubbing it in my face. Link above is to my favorite ones (SwaddleMe Pods) that actually fit my preemie size newborns.

 

  1. ROCK ‘N PLAYS (2)

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These are essential for naps or master bedroom babies. Or babies with reflux. I’ll warn you, they aren’t made specifically for nighttime sleeping, and I have heeded the advice of others telling me they may not be perfectly safe for nighttime sleeping, but they worked well for us! We kept one on each side of our bed, so that Nick and I could be in charge of “one baby” each night. Having these within reach was great for night time feeds and fuss, and for popping binkies back in their mouths every 5 minutes. The slight incline helped the girls with their reflux as well.

 

  1. BOTTLE LEASHES (2)

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I only wish I had discovered these sooner. These are for the baby that can now hold their own bottle (works with sippy cups, too). I discovered my need for these after countless car rides and walks in which one or both girls would constantly toss their bottles. No one likes a bottle that has been rolling in the dirt, or one that rolls under the seat of your van and is out of reach to you or dad. These genius products strap around the cup on one end and can then be secured to seat belts, strollers, etc. When your kid gets a little older, they can even “reel” their cup back in!

 

  1. BINKY CLIPS (several)

Once your babies become mobile, binkies are dropped and lost all day, every day. And there is nothing worse than a screaming baby and a lost binky. With these clips, you can fasten them to your little one’s clothes. Yes, you will still lose them, but not nearly as often. And you can get super cute ones and make them a fashion statement. Win win.

 

  1. NURSING TANK TOPS (several)

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These serve as both a bra, and a tank top (at least for me). Easy access for the little ones always grabbing at your boobs. Tip: Make sure you wear nursing pads if you are going to put on nipple balm. That stuff stains big time.

 

  1. BABY SWINGS (2)

I registered for two different swings, and was lucky enough to receive them. Much to my surprise, they were also different in that they moved in different directions (one side-to-side, one forward-to-backward). This allowed me to have both babies in swings at the same time, and I was able to switch up the sways to add variety. The link above and this link are the ones we have.

 

  1. BABY MOON PILLOWS (2)

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I know, I know, pillows for babies are a big no-no. But these pillows are not really for sleeping, but more for monitored naps, swing time, car seat time, etc. They are made to help avoid flat heads (or to remedy less severe ones). I will never forget the day I took a side profile photo of Lennon and realized the back of her head was super flat. I quickly researched helmets and noted how expensive they would be if insurance didn’t cover them(one, let alone two…Rowe’s head was slightly flat as well), and how uncomfortable they looked. So I Googled some more and found these pillows. I am telling you, after less than two weeks of use, I noticed a huge difference. And at the girls next doctor appointment my pediatrician assured me that they would not need helmets. We obviously would have gotten them the helmets and therapy should it have been necessary (babies are so cute in those fun helmets) but it was nice to not have to worry about it. Again, all babies are different, and this may not be a fix for yours, but I say it is worth a shot!

 

  1. BABY SHUSHER

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My photographer introduced me to this little gem. It makes white noise, on a timer, similar to what your newborn would hear in the womb. And it is small enough to fit in your diaper bag. I would toss this in one of the girls’ car seats during fussy drives and often (not always) it would calm them down! Just another tool to keep in my tool belt.

 

  1. DOUBLE JOGGING STROLLER

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A definite necessity. We started off with the Graco double stroller that our car seats could click into, which worked great when traveling. But it was a you-know-what to lug around, the girls were too small to fit safely when not in the car seats, and it was not convenient for quick walks around the neighborhood. So we got this jogging stroller and the rest is history. We use this 80% of the time and we love it. And, get this, it is one of the CHEAPER jogging strollers and works great, IMO.

 

  1. NAME BRACELETS (2)

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I purchased these for the girls to help us tell them apart when they were first born, and also as a super cute accessory. Our Rowe developed a birthmark on her face at around 5 weeks old, which made it a lot easier to tell them apart, so they didn’t wear these often. But I think these are great for identical twin girls!!

 

  1. BABY BREZZA

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This is an item I have never used, personally, but comes highly recommended from other twin mamas. It preps baby’s formula for you! It is like a Keurig for formula – how convenient! I hear it is a real game changer.

 

  1. CRIB AQUARIUMS

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These crib toys help us get a few extra minutes of sleep. The girls have learned how to turn them on and will sit in their cribs and quietly watch (a lot of the time). Side note: my aunt also has one of these for herself. They are that amazing.

 

  1. BABY BULLET

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If you are a mom who wants to do it all, like me, then you are probably thinking about making your own baby food. It really isn’t as difficult as it may seem, and is made 10 times easier with this contraption. It pulverizes veggies, fruit, meat, table food, etc. into perfect purees for your little ones. It also comes with utensils, a freezer tray and little jars to keep thawed food in (I bought extra trays and jars since, you know, two babies). It also has a recipe book!

 

  1. EZPZ PLATES

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There is a fun story behind this one. My grandfather’s friend’s daughter (or is it daughter-in-law?) owns this company! His friend actually sent us four of the EZPZ plates as a gift when the twins were first born. We use them all of the time. We take them all over the place, especially restaurants, so we don’t have to put their food on sticky, dirty tables. Score!!

 

  1. SILICONE BIBS – W/BUTTONS! (several)

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Right around the time R&L started feeding themselves, they also started ripping their bibs off. So I fired up the trusty Google in search of bibs with buttons, instead of the usual Velcro. I came across these bibs, and they work like a charm. The easy cleanup silicone and food catching pouch are an added bonus.

 

Feel free to send this list to Santa; I promise you won’t regret it. In my next post, I’ll tell you what I am wishing for THIS year.

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Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS)

Twin to twin transfusion syndrome, or TTTS, is a serious condition that can occur in babies that share a placenta in the womb (identical twins or higher order multiples). TTTS occurs when the shared placenta contains abnormal blood vessels that connect the umbilical cords and circulation of the fetuses. The placenta may also be shared unequally (for example, one twin has access to ¾ of the placenta and the other only ¼) and one twin may not receive the necessary nutrients to grow normally.

When the blood vessels become abnormally connected, one baby (the recipient) may receive too much blood flow, while the other (the donor twin) does not receive enough. The donor twin may experience slower than normal growth, have poor urinary output and little to know amniotic fluid. Too much blood flow to the recipient can put strain on the heart, potentially causing heart failure. The recipient might have a more active bladder causing greater amounts of amniotic fluid.

TTTS can occur at any time during pregnancy, but is considered more serious between 12-26 weeks gestation because the babies are too young to be delivered safely. However, thanks to advances in science there are some treatments available to help twins with TTTS.

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First of all, mothers of twins with a shared placenta should be monitored heavily by a Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) clinic. Ultrasounds should be performed biweekly to check on things such as amniotic fluid levels, blood flow in the placenta, visible bladders, size differences, etc. All of these can be indicators of TTTS.

If TTTS is detected, there are now treatment options (before, TTTS usually claimed the lives of both babies).

  1. Delivery of the babies – this will obviously need to be later in gestation, at a date when the babies are viable and their lungs have matured enough.
  2. Amniocentesis to drain excess amniotic fluid. This can improve the blood flow in the placenta and reduce the risk of preterm labor.
  3. Laser surgery to seal off the connection between the blood vessels. Laser surgery is often preferred to amniocentesis because it only needs to be done once. Amniocentesis may need to be done repeatedly to maintain proper blood flow. Laser surgery has an 80-65% survival rate of at least one twin, 65-70% overall twin survival, and 5% or less significant handicap rates in survivors.

Below is a video to help you better understand TTTS.

http://www.nbcnews.com/video/doctor-explains-ttts-twin-to-twin-transfusion-syndrome-581592643543

 

Bump envy

Come ON baby bump, where the heck are you?! Just this past week I have started to notice a small little bump in my abdomen. And none of my pants button anymore. Sounds normal for a woman almost 16 weeks pregnant, right? But what about a woman pregnant with twins? I feel like I should be so much bigger by now!
To the average street walker, I would just look like I had recently stuffed my face (which I probably did) and am letting myself go a bit. Unless I have on a tight top, there really isn’t much to see. Every time I see another pregnant woman with a belly bigger than mine I get jealous. Especially because the past week I have started to feel normal again. I want to LOOK pregnant. I want people to come up to me at the grocery store and ask me when I am due. I want to eat all of the bag French fries before we get home without looking like a hog (I know my husband knows I’m pregnant, but what about the person next to us at the stoplight?). I want my belly button to pop out.

  
I am a member of several Moms of Multiples/Twins forums, boards and Facebook group. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, looks bigger than me at this stage. On top of the not looking very pregnant, it also makes me worry that my babies aren’t growing! I haven’t had an ultrasound in almost three weeks, so I really have no idea what is going on in there.
I just want a bump. A big round bump to rub lotion on, to rest my ice cream bowl on, and to dress really cute. Is that too much to ask? 

The first trimester in a nut shell (egg shell?)

Weeks 1-2

These are the weeks leading up to ovulation. Most women spend this time taking ovulation tests and having lots and lots of baby-making sex. For us IVFers, it’s a little less hot and heavy. This period is usually filled with stimulation drugs (if having a fresh transfer) or other drugs like Lupron, Lovenox, etc., if having a frozen transfer. Several ultrasounds to confirm your ovaries and womb are ready, and anticipation for Transfer Day! We had our transfer on CD 19, and that was the day I received the bad news about our remaining embryos. I spent the remainder of Week 2 resting and feeling sorry for myself.

Week 3

This is the week we slowly start symptom watching. And eating pineapple core and Brazil nuts. Implantation usually happens during this week, so if you are like me, you were wearing light colored underwear and hoping to catch some “implantation bleeding”. I had none of that, and thus, convinced myself I was out. Toward the end of week three, you start questioning if everything is a symptom. You forgot to turn off the bedroom light – must be pregnancy brain. You peed an extra time between 3pm and 6pm, you’re pregnant. Extra gassy? Pregnant! Headache? Pregnant! The sun is shining? PREGNANT! It is pure torture.

Week 4

Pregnancy test week! We received our positive and I was ecstatic. I had virtually no symptoms. Are they sure they got it right? Is this real? Where were my sore boobs, nausea, and all of that other fun pregnancy stuff? This is the week you will tell your partner, call to make your first OB appointment, and probably pee on any pregnancy test you can get your hands on.

Week 5

I call this opposite week. All of those things you convinced yourself WERE symptoms about a week ago, now you are convincing yourself they are not. I was sure it was way too early to be feeling as exhausted as I was, or as hungry as I was. I was obviously making it all up in my head. So I kept peeing on sticks for reassurance. I even convinced myself I had the flu this week because it was way too early for nausea, body aches, and food aversions!

Week 6

Ultrasound week! One of the few perks of being an infertility clinic patient – the early and frequent ultrasounds. We got to see our (surprise!) two beautiful babies this week. Leading up to this ultrasound I was a nervous wreck, afterward I was excited, nervous, and so many other emotions. But the pregnancy felt a bit more real. They were REALLY in there. And that’s when the nausea really kicked in….

Week 7

The nausea was picking up, but every time I looked at the ultrasound on the fridge, I welcomed it. To me, it meant my little beans were growing. My appetite had increased, but the thought of most foods made me want to vomit. I had some mild spotting this week that freaked me out. It was brown, and only in the morning, but scary nonetheless. The nurses told me it was pretty normal, to take it easy and to push the fluids. As long as it stayed brown and wasn’t heavy or accompanied by cramps, everything should be fine. But still, it was scary.

Week 8

Vomiting. Food aversions. Nausea. The Three Musketeers. They were with me all day, every day. I managed to keep food down, thankfully. But I felt pretty miserable. To top it all off, the night I was 8 weeks 4 days pregnant, I woke up at 1am to pee and found dark red blood when I wiped. I immediately thought the worst. It wasn’t brown anymore. I woke Nick up and we went straight to the emergency room. I was seen by a doctor who gave me a pelvic and cervical exam, and found no blood. He also gave me an abdominal ultrasound. He told me not to get my hopes up about hearing the heartbeats on this type of machine, since it was so early. We were able to see both babies, and heard one heartbeat for sure. I was discharged feeling much better and was able to get in for an ultrasound with my specialist the next day. We confirmed that Baby A and Baby B were both doing well. My doctor told me to discontinue my Lovenox injections and baby aspirin and from that moment on, I have not had any more spotting (knock on wood).

Weeks 9-11

My hermit stage. I did not want to leave the house. I was living on plain waffles, pretzels and noodles. Most nights I fell asleep by 8:30 and it was all I could do to get myself out of bed in the morning and to work. My pants started to feel tighter but no bump in sight. I began wearing belly bands and the moment I got home from work it was straight into pajamas and to the couch. The nausea continued full force. I don’t know why they call it morning sickness when it lasts all day. Stupid name. I was vomiting a couple days a week. Week 10 I even threw up in my car WHILE driving in a construction zone on the highway. Thank God I had a plastic grocery bag and was only a couple miles from home. That was the day I hit symptom rock bottom. So gross.

This week I also saw the high risk doctors at Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) for the first time. They told me everything looked good so far, and the doctor discussed with me all of the possible complications that could arise in a mo/di (monochorionic, diamniotic) pregnancy like mine. Preeclampsia, anemia, preterm labor, TTTS, gestational diabetes, etc. Talk about a freak out. But they assured me they would do everything in their power to make things go smoothly, and I would be monitored often. I set up my next appointment for week 16. This would be the first of many TTTS monitoring appointments. From that appointment forward I would have ultrasounds every other week to monitor growth, fluid, placenta, and other signs of TTTS.

Week 12

For those of you who are unaware, week 12 is a milestone week. By now the placenta has taken over and symptoms should begin to subside. It is at this week that risk of miscarriage drops considerably. I was given the all clear from my specialist to discontinue my progesterone injections and estrogen pills and patches. I was also released from the RE and turned over to my OB. Nick and I announced our pregnancy on social media this week and the response was amazing. We were so overwhelmed by all of the love and support we received. Our family, friends and community are truly amazing.

 

Week 13

The last week of the first trimester!! Hallelujah! This week my nausea improved drastically. I was able to reintroduce some healthy food into my diet. And I actually had a little bit more energy. I saw my OB for the first time this week and babies looked good. I wouldn’t have another ultrasound for 3 weeks though, and this really freaked me out. But for now, we had two healthy babies on the way and couldn’t be happier!

Are you sure there aren’t two?

The moment I asked the ultrasound tech that question has lingered in my mind for the past several weeks, “Are you sure there aren’t two?”

Two weeks after our second beta, which sky-rocketed up from 697 to 2003, we had our first ultrasound. Let me tell you, the days leading up to the appointment were some of the longest of my life. I didn’t quite FEEL pregnant yet, and I certainly didn’t look pregnant, so how could I really BE pregnant? Maybe the tests were wrong, or my third beta wouldn’t have doubled? Shouldn’t they be doing betas every other day until that first appointment??

Week 4-5 was a piece of cake in the symptoms department. I felt normal, no sore boobs, no nausea, just a little extra tired. Shouldn’t I be feeling something by now? By the end of week 5, I felt like I had been hit by a bus. I was exhausted, nauseated, my legs were sore and I had a headache. But that couldn’t be the pregnancy, right? I was sure that I had caught something from a coworker who had been out of the office for most of the week. Dang him for bringing me his sickness! I felt much better after a few days.

We went in for our first ultrasound when I was 6 weeks and 4 days along. Nick took a half day off from work so that he could come with me. I picked him up from our house and we rode together to the doctor’s office. On the way, we heard a commercial about a woman hearing two heartbeats at her ultrasound and she found out she was having twins. Nick looked at me and said something along the lines of “that could be us, maybe it’s a sign”. I laughed it off and said, yea right! We only transferred one embryo, it was a miracle in itself that that had stuck!

To say I was nervous and anxious in the waiting room would be an understatement. I knew how early it was, and how quickly things could go south in a pregnancy. I said numerous prayers, just hoping that my little nugget was OK and that we would see all the things we needed to (according to Dr. Google, a yolk sack and something about a fetal pole were vital). They called me back, drew my blood, and then it was go time.

My doctor was out of the office that week so I was seeing one of the ultrasound techs. As soon as she stuck in that magic want I immediately saw two little white blobs. But then she started moving it around and they were gone just as fast. The first thing she said was “there it is”, and I finally let my breath out (I think I had been holding it since the blood draw). She took its measurements, and showed us the little flicker of the heartbeat. I was grinning from ear to ear. They warned me that we might not be able to hear the heartbeat this early, but we could try. I held my breath again and all of a sudden heard the most beautiful sound, the thump-thump-thump of my baby’s heart. Queue the tears.

After that, I’m not sure what came over me, but that is when I blurted out the “are you sure there aren’t two in there?” She said, “Well hold on let me check, I am going to do a scan of the uterus.” I watched the screen change and then she stopped on another blob and said “Yep, there’s another.” Well HOLY CRAP. TWINS!!! Disbelief, shock, joy, fear, excitement – I felt all of these emotions in that single moment. We were able to hear the heartbeat of baby 2 as well!

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It looks like we are having identical twins. This automatically makes my case high risk, and with identical twins there is a risk of Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS), where basically one twin would take over the majority of the nutrients and doesn’t get enough (more about that in the future), but that is a risk we are willing to deal with should it arise. All we knew is that in our time of need, and pain, and doubt, God had blessed us with two beautiful heartbeats.

We made one wish, and two came true.

IVF #2 – Test Day

February 1, 2016. 11dp5dt. This was test day and I had never been more scared for something in my life. Leading up to the day I had experienced some cramping, and a “lightning bolt” stab of pain in my uterus the day after transfer. I had also hit a blood vessel in my stomach when administering my Lovenox injections so I had a huge bruise and was extremely sore for a few days. Besides that and being a bit sleepier, I had no symptoms. I spent days and nights praying for nausea, sore boobs, anything. But I just felt pretty darn normal!

I worked from home that morning, and took the afternoon off. I knew if I received the same news as last time I would just want to go straight home and cry and binge drink wine. I spent the morning doing work, crying and praying. After having my blood drawn that morning, the nurse had mentioned the results wouldn’t likely come in until after 2pm. My mom and dad were scheduled to come over to keep me company at 1:30pm. I kept my phone clear across the room while I worked so that I wouldn’t keep checking it.

I finally got up to use the restroom around 1:15 and noticed I had a missed text message from my friend who is also my nurse at the clinic. It said “Call the office ASAP, we tried to get ahold of you 🙂 🙂 :)”. Thank GOD for those smiley faces. At that moment I knew the news was positive. My heart was beating a mile a minute as I went outside to call the clinic. They gave me the most amazing news I had ever heard, the word I had been waiting 18 months to hear, POSITIVE. My first beta had come back at 697, and they look for 100! HOLY CRAP!!

After a few screams and some crying, I scheduled my second beta for two days later. Just as I hung up the phone I saw my parents pulling around the corner and into my driveway. I walked right outside and told them the news. I couldn’t contain myself! My mom even had a gift bag of baby stuff in the car because she “had a feeling” (why the heck didn’t I have that feeling??). I then proceeded to go upstairs to the bathroom and pee on a handful of pregnancy tests. Two lines and the digital “Pregnant” showed up right away. I dropped to my knees and thanked God. I then looked at the sticks about 8 million times and pranced down the stairs to show my parents.

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We then decided it would be fun to surprise Nick at work! I loved this idea because I never thought I would get to surprise him, since he knew the info was coming. But we received the news early and had some time. We drove to the store and bought a Congratulations balloon along with two pink and two blue balloons and drove to Nick’s school. He actually called while we were on our way and I had to lie through my teeth. I did a pretty good job and think there might be an acting career in my future. Below is a video of the surprise. I can honestly say it was some of the best few minutes of my life and I am SO glad that I was able to make it this special for Nick.

After Nick had heard the news I took some time to tell a handful of close family members and friends. After all, it was still early days. But for that day, at that very moment, I was PREGNANT.

There can be miracles, when you believe…

It is with great joy, but also with a heavy heart, that we announced to the world that we are pregnant with not one, but two miracle babies!

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Joy because it is finally our turn to have a family. Joy because we have seen two lines, heard our baby’s heartbeats and allowed ourselves to look to the future. It is with a heavy heart because I know there are so many well deserving people out there still being crushed by the weight of infertility and a dream lost. For every tear of joy, there has been a tear of sorrow. For every moment I have not quite believed, there is another living with the reality of infertility. And as much as my heart has broken, it has also been repaired.

We cannot begin to explain how incredibly blessed we feel. In our wildest dreams we did not imagine that this would be our story. We are so thankful for this journey we have been through. For all of the wonderful people we have met, for all the lessons it has taught us, and for the gift that we have been given. It is true that God works in mysterious ways, and that He has a plan.

I look forward to transitioning this blog from one of infertility, to one of pregnancy, and (God-willing) eventually to one with a focus on family. But I promise to never forget where I came from. To never discount someone’s journey or struggle because my own took a turn for the best. I will never forget the pain that came with each month, the fear of the unknown, or the feeling of being broken. I understand if it is too difficult for some of my followers to continue this journey with me, and I wish you all the best of luck. A family is waiting for you all, one way or another. I just know it.

Baby A & Baby B are due to arrive on October 8, 2016. However, because we are having twins, my doctor said that I would deliver at 36 weeks, which puts us at around September 10th. We found out the wonderful news on February 1, 2016. I have since posted a couple of blogs, but none have revealed our news. I have continued to write about our journey, and I plan to post my entries from the first trimester in the coming days/weeks. These will include pregnancy test day, the day of our first ultrasound, and a reflection on the first weeks being pregnant.

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We hope that you will continue this wild ride with us and we cannot wait to see what the future has in store!