Thursday, December 6, 2012

a heavy heart

I was prepared for three possible outcomes: that our embryo didn't survive the thaw, that we transferred but did not get pregnant, or that (as hoped) this embryo became our third child.  I could have never prepared myself for what happened this morning.

We arrived at the clinic two hours before the scheduled transfer for bloodwork and a massage (a nice perk at my clinic).  We had been sitting in the waiting room for mere minutes when my phone vibrated.  It was the office.  Hmmmm.  I answered, hoping this was just some reminder call, and heard, "This is x from the fertility center."  My heart stopped.  It was our embryologist.  There are a few phone calls you never want to get....calls from the police, calls from hospitals...and calls from your embryologist on the morning of your frozen transfer.  I explained that we were in the waiting room, so she said she would be right out.  When I saw her, I whispered to her that this couldn't be good.  She didn't dispute my assessment.  I didn't even get through the door to the office before she embraced me as I sobbed.

Our embryo, our picture perfect better than the twins embryo, had apparently been damaged in the freezing process (which has since changed).  Because of this damage, when it was thawed this morning 90% of it was arrested.  Most all of it was already gone.  But, of course, there was a smidge still hanging on.  She didn't really know what to say.  She said it was not viable, that it would almost certainly not result in a pregnancy.  She explained that the little part still alive could be placental cells (which can't create a baby) or embrionic cells (which can't survive without a placenta).  But she couldn't say that it was 100% dead.  Nope.  That little smidge meant that there was still a tiny bit of life.  So it was up to us.  We could transfer as planned.  We could leave and allow the remainder to arrest.  We could transfer and stop meds, allowing it to arrest inside its intended home.  I asked what she would do, and she answered honestly--she wouldn't have it transferred.  I asked what most people in this situation do, and she answered honestly--this almost never happens.  It's usually all dead or much more alive.

After many tears and some quick soul searching, we asked to have labwork cancelled but have the embryo transferred as soon as possible so that we could begin what would be a very long 500+ miles home.  If my child were dying, I would never leave it to die alone.  And this embryo is my child.  I couldn't stand the thought of it "arresting" all on its own.  I wanted to bring it home the only way we could.  So in the same room where I cried tears of joy as I watched my twins make their way into my uterus, I silently sobbed as I watched the child that I have loved and prayed for and dreamed of for two years make its way home, knowing that I would never meet it. 

For now I am continuing my meds.  I cannot yet make a decision that I know will end this more quickly.  Maybe I will change my mind, but most likely I will take meds until about 8 days post transfer, confirm that there is no pregnancy with a home test, then call it a day. 

My heart is so heavy.  I had let myself imagine what it would be get pregnant from this "secret" cycle that our friends and family didn't know have kids that were two years apart like all the fertile not have to face difficult decisions about family building when we are drained of resources.  But most of all, I had let myself fall in love.  This embryo was created at the same time as my beloved twins, and I always considered it a little part of them.  I longed to see them grow up together.  I didn't just want another child....I wanted this child.  This child who has held a part of my heart for two years.

The doctor and coordinator and embryologist were amazing.  They could not have been more compassionate.  They respected our decision and never once made us feel silly.  They cried with us, mourned this loss.  And they said some really nice things about me.  The one I remember through my teary fog is that they called me brave.  But I don't feel brave.  Not at all.  I feel helpless and broken.

Monday, December 3, 2012


We're to the final countdown...transfer is in just 3 days!  I am feeling lots of things--excited that it might work, anxious that it won't, nervous about how I will handle negative results, sad that it's our last and only embryo, sore from the progesterone shots.  So I'm trying to wade through these emotions and focus on just one.  Trust.

It's taken a while for me to get to this point, and I am still not perfectly there, but I am learning to trust again.  To trust that God really does know the plans He has for me, and to trust that those plans are ultimately good.  I don't really buy into the "everything happens for a reason" bit, but I do believe that God can take ugly circumstances and turn them into beauty.  I do not believe that God "wanted" me to lose three babies.  But I do believe that God took those miscarriages...the way they happened so quickly and so close together...and used those to bring us to IVF.  IVF, the only way I would have ended up with my perfect twins, was the beautiful result of our difficult journey.

So now, as we reenter the trying to have a baby waters, I am trying to trust.  I am trying to remind myself to look at my son and daughter and be reminded that God is good.  That He has provided.  That I can trust that despite the outcome, God loves me and will be enough for me and my family.  But it's not easy.  The most difficult part, I think, is knowing that trusting doesn't mean trusting that the transfer will work and that we will have another baby next fall.  Trusting, instead, is not bound by the results.  It is a choice that must be made, despite the circumstances.  I pray that I can find the grace to trust over these next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

and we're off

I started wearing my estrogen patches yesterday, marking the real start of this frozen cycle.  People always talk about pregnancy you forget all the bad stuff so that you want to do it again.  I think there is also infertility amnesia.  I had forgotten how sensitive I was to all of this stuff, and just how quickly I would feel the effects.  This morning I was already seeing stars in the shower, and I have been ravenous all day.  It's all worth it when it works, though.  That's what I tell myself.  That's what I remember each time I look at my son and daughter.

I'm feeling super anxious.  With our fresh IVF, I just always believed it would work.  I just did.  This time, I'm not feeling so positive.  This is our only embryo, and my mind keeps telling me that we can't possibly be lucky enough to have 3 embryos equal 3 babies.  I'm trying to kick those negative feelings to the curb.  While guarding your heart can be useful, negative feelings definitely don't help the process.  So I'm trying to let myself daydream about the possibility of this third child.

Monday, October 8, 2012

save the date

The date has been chosen, the countdown has begun.  We'll be transferring our single frozen embryo on December 6th.  This process still amazes me.  Even though we've been through IVF before, I am bewildered by the fact that I know that on a certain date almost two months away a tiny embryo created almost two years ago will be put inside me.  I am even more bewildered by how much I already love that little one, and how dearly I hope it sticks around.

This is different.  The biggest difference, of course, is that we have our twins.  We have children.  But it's also different because it may be our last go around.  If this works, we will not do IVF again.  If this doesn't work, we have big decisions to make.  And that makes me nervous.  I'm still feeling out where I stand.  My heart is pulled in several directions...further IVF, adoption.  And there is always the possibility of moving forward with the two precious children we have.

But for now I'm focusing on staying positive and praying I never have to make that decision.  I'm working on the physical prep for the cycle--we just had our saline-infused ultrasound, I'm being disciplined about taking my vitamins, and I have wonderful intentions to cut caffeine soon.  I'm also trying to prep mentally and emotionally.  I've started counseling.  When we lost the three babies before our first IVF, I never really stopped to process.  I knew that if I stopped, I might not get started again.  Now I'm trying to work through the sadness, loneliness, anger and grief still simmering.  I want to be in the best place possible for my sweet twins and for this little embryo.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


So, the twins officially turned one last week.  One.  It's been a whole year since I nuzzled them inside, since I was the only one who felt their every kick and squirm.  To be honest, in the days leading up to their birthday, I got nervous.  Nervous that they were growing to fast, of course, but also nervous about the franticness I was beginning to feel.  As their birthday loomed, my desire to have another biological child, to be pregnant again, started eating away at me.  I could feel the obsession coming back.  The compulsive behaviors, the thoughts from which I never seemed to get a break.  I was afraid that once this huge milestone passed, these feelings would only get worse.

But then I did something I haven't done since the twins were tiny. I took a drive during nap time.  I loaded my son and daughter in the backseat, and while they slept peacefully, I drove and listened to their lullabies.  I drove through the beautiful sunshine; past cornfields and soybeans, sustenance growing from the ground; past windmills, energy being created before my eyes.  And I found it.  I found peace.  I was finally able to say to myself that if we never have another biological child, that is okay.  If I never feel a little one kick in my womb again, that is okay.

I feel selfish even writing this...I have a son and a daughter, how much more could I want?  But a big family has always been the plan.  And when infertility wreaked havoc on that plan, it was devastating.  Further, I would love to have a more traditional birth experience.  I still grieve the twins' birthday in the sense that I didn't get to hold them.  In fact, I didn't even get to touch them in the delivery room.  No kiss.  No nuzzle.  No physical contact.

So we will do a frozen cycle with our one remaining embryo.  And we will fervently pray that he or she makes his way to us.  But I am thankful to be moving towards a place where the alternative to a positive FET is somewhat less scary.

Monday, August 6, 2012


Hope.  It's a funny, persistent little thing.  It's something with which that those of us who struggle to build a family often have a love/hate relationship.  Yes, we must maintain hope that some day our prayers will be fulfilled and we will cradle our child in our arms.  Without that hope, the waiting and treatments and pain and losses would be unbearable.  Yet this same hope that powers us forward can make each setback that much more disappointing.  When we hope, we allow ourselves to dream.  And when those dreams don't come true, the shock can be devastating.

I stopped nursing the twins over 9 weeks ago.  For two months I have not pumped, yet my body has failed to "restart."  No pumping, but no period.  Of course my initial reaction was fear--another reproductive issue.  But my second reaction was irrational hope.  Hope that somehow I was your cousin's mailman's sister's best friend who got pregnant on her own immediately after her IVF twins.  I am not pregnant...I never really thought I could be.  But I was still sad staring at that single line on the stick.*

Silly, silly hope.  I sometimes loathe you.  Yet I wouldn't get rid of you even if I could.

*Please know that I am in no way comparing this sadness to those of you who get negative tests after trying for months or doing any treatments, of to the sadness of those who don't have any children yet.

Monday, July 30, 2012

wading in

I've noticed that I'm a bit distracted lately...a bit on edge.  Maybe it's just the move, but maybe it's more.  Perhaps it is the fact that we are starting to dip our toes back into the "trying to have a baby" waters.  The twins will be one in less than a month.  We have one frozen embryo from our IVF cycle, and we are beginning to talk seriously about our FET.  There are more logistics to figure out this time...our embryo is in our home state, while we are not.  Monitoring, transfer, and follow up will be a bit more complicated.  Which is why we are talking about it.  We are making preparations now, hoping for a smooth FET sometime this winter.

Going back to the days of shots and tests and wonder and anxiety is not something I look forward to.  Sure, it will be different this time.  The stakes aren't quite as high.  No matter what, we have our twins...we have two children already.  We are parents.  But still, I long for this child.  Since the day bittiest was frozen, I have considered him my child.  I think about and pray for him often.  I bought him his own baby pumpkin at Halloween.  I cannot wait for the day when we get to meet.  I beg God that he will be strong like his brother and sister, and that he will survive and live and get to join us in this world.  No matter what, though, he is part of our family.  And I want to make every preparation possible to give him the best chance at life.

If any of you lovely ladies have advice on remote FETs, I would love to hear it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

our newest adventure

About two months ago my husband was offered a fabulous job, the kind of job that would be great for his career.  The not-so-fabulous part?  The job was more than 6 hours from our home in a city and state where we literally knew no one.  It was a hard decision, but after much consideration we decided to go for it.

For so many reasons, it felt like the right thing to do.  I am not working right now, so my career wouldn't be affected.  The twins are too young to even realize we are moving.  My husband was excited about the new opportunity.  And, while our old insurance covered 0% of infertility treatments, this new job came with a plan that covers 80%...seriously...80%.  If we want to try to add to our family, we can actually somewhat afford it now.

So, last week we left our comfy little home, the place where we've been for 11 years, and ventured into the unknown.  I know that eventually this place will become home.  That we will find friends and community and favorite places.  But right now I feel lonely.  I miss my house, my routines, and knowing how to get to Target without breaking out the GPS.  I know this will pass, but that doesn't make it less difficult, does it?

Monday, June 11, 2012

packing away the pump

Like many things in life, my relationship with my breast pump has been love/hate.  I love that it brought my milk in when my little preemies were too small to even consider nursing.  I love that it gave me colostrum, then milk, to feed to my angels via tube in the NICU.  I love that, when the babies refused to learn to nurse, it allowed me to continue giving them my milk for many months.  But I hated pumping.

I cannot say I enjoyed anything about the actual act of pumping.  Being tied to a machine multiple times a day was difficult.  I so wanted to use the little down-time I had to nap, shower, or just be selfish.  And it never felt natural.  While I can see how nursing a baby would be a beautiful bonding experience, I never saw that beauty as I stared down at this strange looking machine.

After 9.5 months, I am packing the pump away.  Although I feel a little guilty that I didn't go longer, I'm also incredibly proud of myself.  In the early days, I would set a goal and write it on the whiteboard on our refrigerator.  Many times these goals were only 10 or so days out...I didn't want to set myself up to fail, and I was unsure that I could make it even another week.  I wanted to quit so badly at 2 months, and almost gave in at 4, but I held my secret ultimate goal of 6 months in my heart.  With my husband's support, I made it to that 6 month mark, and then 3 plus more months.

Now, I can say with a bit of confidence that it's the right time to put the pump away.  We have lots of frozen milk, so we're weaning the twins to an all formula diet slowly, and I am sure they will continue to thrive.  So I will return my rented pump tomorrow, with both celebration and hesitation, thankful for the gift it gave my twins.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

free formula, anyone?

I hate to be wasteful, so I'm hoping you ladies can help me.  When the twins were in the NICU, we were sent home with 29 two ounce bottles of Similac Neosure 22 calorie formula.  This formula is typically only used for preemies, as it has two extra calories per ounce to help with growing, and term babies don't need extra calories.  Does anyone out there need this or know of someone who does?  I would love to ship this along to a family who could use a little free formula, but it's such a specific kind that I'm not sure I can find it a good home.

If you know of a family who could use it, please leave your email in a comment below.  Thanks!!!

UPDATE: Formula has been spoken for.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

our little seven month olds

Wow, has it really been almost four months since I posted anything here?  Time seems to play tricks on you when you are attempting to parent two little ones.  Sometimes the days seem to creep by, yet the weeks and months pass too quickly.

The twins are now 7 months old.  Though they can be exhausting, they continue to be such a blessing to A and me.  Each day, amid the diapers and bottles and craziness, there are moments when they both look at me and laugh, and I stop to remember how truly fortunate I am. 

Baby boy is completely nuts!  He is now army crawling...his belly stays on the floor, but he is super fast.  We've already had to take the curtains down and are doing a major childproofing bonanza this weekend.  Baby girl has no real interest in moving yet, but gets very annoyed with brother when he comes over and starts eating her toes/hands/head.  They are both sitting on their own, they love toys, and they love bouncing in their jumperoos.

They are growing up and learning so much.  At Christmas, they didn't even look at their presents.  On Sunday, they actually sat and went through their Easter baskets, looking for new things to play with!

They never got the nursing thing at all, so I'm still pumping.  We have been feeding them 2/3 breastmilk and 1/3 formula (plus two meals of solids per day), but we are running out of freezer space so lately we've decreased the formula to just 1/6.  I must say, I am pretty proud of myself for pumping this long.  I feel like my body did a lot of things wrong in this process, but this is something it got right.