Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thoughts at the Half Way Point (almost)

We will be 18 weeks on Sunday and most twin pregnancies are delivered around 36 weeks, so we are almost exactly half way through. I can't believe it as I type this! It just amazes me. I wanted to post about how differently I feel now, half way through, versus early on because so much has changed! I love lists, so here we go!

1. I realize more than ever the profound sacrifice that J and R and their kids are making for us. From the moment that J offered to do this, I was indescribably grateful and in awe that anyone would make such an offer. When it actually worked, I was blown away that the offer was transitioning into a true life-changing event. I knew conceptually what a big deal it is to give birth and all the risks around that but what I didn't have a full grasp of was that pregnancy is more than giving birth - it's a true 9 month sacrifice. I guess I *knew* that logically but I never really thought much about the pregnancy part, only the birth part. I envisioned that J would be carrying a beautiful belly around and that we would magically have a baby in 9 months after the hard sacrifice of labor. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to be so close to J, both in physical proximity and in friendship, because I do get to experience a lot of the pregnancy to the degree that I can; we see each other weekly (at least), email multiple times per week and B and I go to all the appointments. Because of this, I am intimately aware of all the complexities of pregnancy (and potential complexities). J experienced frequent morning sickness until 15.5 weeks and it was really hard to feel like the cause of it (of course she never for a moment made me feel that way). R had to come home every day from work at lunch time to put their youngest to bed because J wasn't allowed to lift her. J still isn't allowed to really lift for the rest of the pregnancy so she constantly has to be aware of what she is doing and it limits what she can do with her own kids. While J had such low energy during the first trimester, she wasn't up to playing as much with her kids in the same way she would have if she weren't pregnant. J's mom and R have been looking after the kids every time we go to one of these appointments. It truly is taking a village for us to have these kids, and the every day sacrifice of J, R, and their kids - for 9 months (and before during the IVF procedure) - is mind blowing. These are the things I didn't know the extent of at the beginning of the pregnancy. I feel sheepish often because I HATE, HATE, HATE to rely on anyone for anything and this is the ultimate reliance, especially when you realize how much goes into it. There is no way to ever thank anyone for this kind of sacrifice.

2. I'm shocked at how quickly my injured soul from infertility has healed. Before getting "pregnant", I read all the time on message boards about how difficult it still was for people to get past infertility during their pregnancies and beyond; there was so much pain and hurt that even after reaching the goal, there was a shadow on the soul. I can honestly say I haven't experienced this for the most part (see number 3 for an exception). Infertility certainly has IMPACTED me and my thoughts in various ways, but I no longer feel the desperate sadness and anger that I felt before. I still worry more than the average person about the pregnancy, but even that has plateaued since early on. I do now believe we will have two babies in December, and I didn't believe that in the first few weeks. I no longer feel anger toward pregnant women, I no longer feel hopeless, I no longer feel sad that we had to go through 6 IVFs to get where we are. I am proud of how we got here and tell everyone about it. I have reached complete acceptance that this is not traditional and have no problems with it. It was eye opening to receive multiple emails after our big email announcement from people I knew in high school who said, "wow, that's perfect, I remember you always said you didn't want to be pregnant but you wanted kids". It's whole life I have had this weird thing about not wanting to be pregnant but wanting to have biological children. I see this now as completely meant to be. And because we only wanted two kids and are having twins, I feel a genuine sense of soul completion and healing that I would never have thought possible. Our family will be complete.

3. I do have occasional moments where I feel...odd...despite everything I just said above. Odd is the best way to describe it because it's not sad or angry, it's just...odd. We are in Denver right now for a convention for B's company. Last night everyone started getting to the convention, and it's a bunch of people who all know each other (same industry and they come to this convention every year). So, last night, everyone was doing the standard greetings, catching up, introducing to new people, etc. Someone introduced us to a woman who was pregnant and due at the same time as us. I immediately had the thought, "we're due then too!" but felt I had to suppress that conversation piece because she was standing there rubbing her stomach and talking about how she was at the "fat looking stage". Even though we had something much bigger in common - that we are going to have babies in the same month and raise them for 18 years - I felt inferior because I couldn't relate to what she was experiencing right now. It would have been weird to interject our news at that point, even though if I were pregnant myself it would have been completely normal ("oh I'm pregnant too!"). I NEVER feel that way when I tell non-pregnant people our news, ever. I'm so excited to share it and explain our story. But on the random occasions when I am telling a pregnant woman about it I do feel sheepish.

4. I'm amazed at how fast my thoughts have become maternal. I stopped all advertising for my company (I own it) last week to put my career on a temporary hold in anticipation of wanting to be completely free during the 3rd trimester if J needs me and then being on maternity "leave" for several months. I'll have to do another post about the details of that. But suffice it to say that I am VERY career oriented. I have spent the last several years working as hard as possible to climb the career ladder, getting an MBA from a top school and starting my own company because the corporate world didn't move fast enough. Suddenly, that all seems less important. There, I said it out loud. I understand why women choose to not have careers and "just" (I use the term lightly) raise families. I would never, ever, ever have gotten that had babies come easily to us. I do belive it's the strange blessing of infertility to treasure children more than you otherwise would have. I'm fortunate that I'm in a position of owning my company and can just pull the plug on business for a few months without making decisions about quitting a job or formal maternity leave or anything. I do not know what I will choose to do eventually, but for now I plan to take a definite 4 months off, even up to a year. I want to enjoy every moment of having these babies we have worked so hard for. I never thought, even at the beginning of this pregnancy that I would consider taking that much time away or that I would be so happy with the decision. I do think I will want to work again because I enjoy the intellectual challenge of building a company. But I'm not putting any immediate timeframes on it. The maternal instinct has kicked in for me...I couldn't be there for the babies for the first 9 months, but I want to be there for them even more later to make up for it. :)

5. This post is getting enormous so I'm going to end with number 5, though I could go on and on. Lastly I will say that at this point I'm surprised that I'm still shocked this has all worked out. I would have thought I would have gotten used to the idea more, but I still have moments ... all the time ... that I can't believe we are actually going to have the babies I thought were never going to come. I get very emotional whenever I think about that because it seems like a fairy tale given that I had basically thrown in the mental towel. B and I lead a volunteer program through our church with teen girls living in foster homes. Back in January we did a session with them on prayer and trusting God. In that session we had all the girls write a prayer on a piece of stationary about something they needed to "turn over to God". We were going to mail it back to them in several months so they could get perspective on how much things change over time, even when you think you have hit the bottom. B and I always participated in the activities with the girls, so we did prayer letters too. They then all got tucked into the garage and since then the program has changed significantly to now include a lot more teens and the ones we had at the time who wrote those letters we don't see anymore. When we were cleaning out the garage last weekend I found the box with the letters. I felt bad that we had no way to get the letters to those girls now. I was about to throw out the box and then I saw my own letter. I didn't recall what I wrote in it but opened it up to see. It said (recall this was in January, before we had even started the IVF cycle for surrogacy):

"Dear God, Please help me to accept and be at peace with whatever way we are able to have a family."

I just about lost it when I read this. I remembered the hopelessness and pain I felt when writing it in January, not having any idea if the surrogacy would work and not wanting to face my feelings if it didn't. I felt guilty for teaching these girls to do something that I couldn't even do at the time. This was only 7 months ago. I guess the shock that I still feel that this HAS worked out and that I AM at peace now will take a long time to go away. And I probably learned a bigger lesson from our letter writing exercise than any of the girls we were supposed to be "teaching"; God did answer that prayer even though I could never have imagined the answer possibly being so perfect when I wrote that just 7 months ago.

Anxious to find out the genders!

Only five more days until we find out the genders! I absolutely can't wait. I think it will be at that moment that we will go from thinking about "two babies" in general to two individual babies whom we can envision specifically. Even though I'm 99% sure at least one is a boy given the past ultrasounds, I haven't really been imagining what it will be like to have a son - what he will look like, what kinds of little boy things he'll be into, if he'll be a mommy's boy, etc. Those are magical thoughts that I can't wait to have but that I can only fathom having after we know for sure (and the same with the other baby). And then there are the thoughts of how two specific genders will grow up together, what they'll share, how they'll relate, etc. - I think that will be very different if it's a boy/boy combo vs. girl/girl vs. boy/girl. I wonder about it all the time now and absolutely can't sit still waiting for Monday. When we get the news, it's also a Babies R Us kick off party because we'll be ready to start with the nursery!

(On that note, we only finished cleaning out our crazy garage last week and haven't switched the nursery and office yet. That is still to come when we get back in town - right now we are at a convention in Denver for B's company.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Nursery

I forgot to mention in my last post that I appreciate those who read without posting comments too. :) I've been getting emails from people saying they are reading regularly, and that is awesome! I would be doing this even if no one read, because it's more of a personal journal than anything (that I will preserve for the babies someday), but if other people care to read along the way that's really cool too!

So this weekend we are making the first steps toward a nursery! We're not actually buying anything yet, but we have made a big decision: instead of using the small room we were planning to use for the nursery, I'm giving up my big home office, moving all my stuff to the smaller room, and officially designating my current home office room as the new nursery. This was all inspired by my recent visit to my friend K's house (Hi K! :). She has adorable 17 month old twins whom I got to hang out with for the first time at length (she and her husband adopted them from Russia a couple of months ago). It was my first experience ever being with twin babies. I helped feed, diaper, bathe and say good night. It was a lot of fun (and work)! K has a very large nursery and it gave me a good view of how much space two cribs will take up, and two (eventual) walking babies take up! I immediately started thinking that when the babies become mobile our nursery will be really tight. Sooooo...I stopped fighting the suppressed thought: I need to give up the big home office and make it the nursery. I think B had already been secretly thinking that because he immediately was like, "yup".

Tomorrow we are cleaning out the garage and organizing everything (it is a disaster in there and we want to make room for new baby stuff that will require storage). Then we will switch the office/nursery. I've never been excited for such a mundane's SO exciting to feel like we are making progress toward a nursery!

Pre term labor class

First, I just want to say, thanks to those of you who have commented on various posts! It's cool to know that there are people out there who have found this and have been reading!

So last night J and I went to a pre-term labor class through her insurance. The peri recommended it since we're having twins and that is a risk factor. It was an "interesting" experience for several reasons:

1) At the beginning of the class the nurse giving the lecture asked, "who is the one here having twins?" and J raised her hand. She walked over and handed us (us only) a packet called "caring for your premature baby". I guess that even though we are at the pre term labor class, they just assume we'll be caring for a premature baby given that it's twins?! It made me a bit worried, to be honest.

2) We were the only girl/girl pair there - everyone else was husband and wife. It was kind of funny to see people looking at us oddly. I don't know if they thought we were a couple, but J and I were talking about getting t-shirts for future use that identify her as a surrogate and me as the "intended mother". LOL (On a side note, I started thinking about that term the other day, which is standard for the person in my position in the surrogacy. I realized that the word "intended" seems to stem from all the problems there have been with traditional surrogacies, where the surrogate is using her own egg, gets attached to the baby and doesn't want to give the baby to the "intended parents". Intended just seems so unsure, and that's not how our situation is at all! I am looking forward to having the simple label of "mother" rather than "intended mother" :) )

3) They passed around a teddy bear that was the exact size of a premature 5 month old baby. It had a tee shirt that said "premature" with a big red X through it. It felt like a "don't do drugs" or "don't smoke" talk at that point, like premature labor is completely preventable and you don't want a baby the size of that bear. I understand that they just wanted everyone to be hypervigilent about calling if they had any signs of it because many times it IS preventable but I know of a lot of people (from my online world of message boards) that have had unpreventable preterm labor and lost babies...certainly not due to any fault of their own.

4) Overall, I came away really concerned that J will have to go on some kind of crazy bedrest at some point during this due to it being twins. I know how awful that would be for her and her family. They told us about a woman who was on bedrest for 8 weeks with her feet in the air at the hospital. OMG that would be horrible!! It's a big enough deal to be pregnant for someone else, much less be in the hospital for two months! I have to hope that that is exceedingly rare and I will be fervently praying that nothing like this will happen. I don't know how we could ever make up to J for an 8 week hospital stay other than giving her our proverbial first born...but oh wait, then we are back to square one. LOL :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Baby names

I have to admit I have always been super annoyed by people who won't "reveal" their baby's name until he/she is born. I've always thought it was so obnoxious to assume that anyone would care about your baby's name so much that you really want to keep it a surprise - no one really cares except the parents! Before anyone reading this who has done that gets offended, let me say this: I now understand. While some parents really are out of perspective about how little their baby's name means to anyone except themselves, I now get that that's NOT the reason why a lot of people hold the name until the baby comes. A much more valid reason is that when the baby is unborn, everyone thinks there is room to decide still and no one has qualms about giving you baby name comments.

A couple of weeks ago, we had settled on a boy's name we both loved. Carson. That was going to be it. We liked the name because it was not too young, not too old and sounds good with our last name (which also starts with C). Then we told people who asked about names. Some responses:

"NOOOOO! I HATE Carson Daly!" (MTV personality)
"Do you WANT alliteration?" (first and last name starting with the same sound - and yes, we did)
"The first person I thought of is Carson Daly, but I didn't want to tell you that."
"That's a weak name. You need something more traditional."

Carson was the name we picked after going through a similar experience with another name we both liked, Connor. My favorite response to that one:

"Oh, I would never name a baby Connor. That was the name of Lacy Peterson's baby." (My mom said this; Lacy Peterson was that woman murdered when 8 months pregnant by her husband.)

Truth be told, these things don't bother me like they do B. But B is immediately dissuaded from any name he previously loved as soon as someone points out a "flaw". We really liked the idea of alliteration, and now he doesn't want to do it. We were SETTLED on Carson, but now he can't think of anything but Carson Daly (whom he can't stand). I'm afraid we will never settle on a name if we keep telling people the newest decision...because no matter what the name is, someone will always have a reason why you shouldn't use it. There is no name that everyone likes!

An uneventful OB appointment (in a good way!)

Yesterday we had a follow up OB appointment. The doctor was very specifically looking to see if the small bleed area was gone - we were all happy to see that it was indeed all healed! Everything looked great. Because she was looking for something so specific, she didn't really spend time to show us the babies very much. I never get tired of seeing them so I was kind of bummed! We only really saw the tops of their heads and them moving around a little, but no full body shots, or faces, or anything. I guess we'll just have to be patient and wait for August 4th - the day of the BIG ultrasound where they are supposed to tell the genders for sure and they do all the anatomical measurements to check for any abnormalities. We get tons of ultrasounds since they are twins and were conceived through IVF, but most people only get a couple - this big one being one of them.

As a side note, we have a few new baby things from friends! J picked up a couple of really cute little bibs - one that looks like a monkey face and one that is a lion face. A friend from church gave us 3 little baby "chunky" books that she said were her son's favorite when he was little. Another friend of mine gave us two cute bath duckies that have heat sensors on the bottom (to make sure the water is OK) - they are sitting in the bathtub ready to go! :)

This weekend I finished making a comprehensive baby budget/list of everything we need. I think we'll wait for the big ultrasound on the 4th and then start getting some stuff! I can't wait!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

We made our first baby purchase!

When you are trying to conceive and can't, there is no place more harmful to the spirit than Babies R Us. The last time I was there was in May of 2006 when I had to buy a gift for a friend's baby shower and it was so depressing that I vowed never to go back. Well, this weekend I made a triumphant return - this time with B - to make our first baby purchase!

I've been too scared to buy anything to date, and I still don't want to buy anything big, but I just had to buy SOMETHING. We have, after all, made it to the second trimester so we should at least celebrate that! Of course, we didn't buy anything that was critical, it was just symbolic value. We are now the proud owner of a package of 5 green and yellow onesies (those one piece t-shirt things with snaps at the bottom to cover the diaper) and 6 Winnie the Pooh bibs. :) It was exciting to say the least to have the occasion to buy something that OUR babies will actually use.

Here is the funny part: I realized later that the bibs are large feeding bibs for when babies eat solid foods several months later! LOL But they sure are cute. I just LOVE seeing all these characters from my own childhood. It makes me soooo happy. I then embarked on a massive search for nursery themes on Sunday (online) but amazingly there aren't too many that are cute and gender neutral (for a boy and a girl). If we really do have a boy and girl, I may have to get creative. :)

Our next appointment is on Monday.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Some first hand training with kids

Since J was instructed to take it easy for a few days given the scare, I went over yesterday to play with the kids while R was at work. I have done VERY little "babysitting" in my life, and haven't changed diapers since I was about 14 (with the exception of 1 diaper while J was on bedrest in April). Well, I'm happy to report I changed 3 diapers yesterday, including a "stinky" one! J was there and was laughing because I had no idea what to do when I first saw the "situation". But, she talked me through it and all was well. :) I had fun playing the kids all day. They are really, really sweet. J says they were especially well behaved but I was amazed at how well they listen to everything. She tells them to pick something up and they actually pick up! Incredible for a 2 and 3 year old.

I had to get back to work today so B went over for the morning to do the same. I can't wait to hear how it goes. There was a look of terror in his eyes at the thought of changing a diaper this morning. :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Our first perinatologist appointment - AND genders(?)

If you have been reading for a while, you may remember my posts about all the confusion with whether we would get to see a "peri" (high risk pregnancy doctor) or just a regular OB for the duration of the pregnancy. We wanted to see a peri just because it's twins and it would be great to know we are in the most knowledgable hands (not that an OB isn't great also). There was a bunch of back and forth with Kaiser over whether or not that would be possible because twins alone doesn't make you high risk anymore (lots of people with twins!). The last we heard, we were getting the referral but they never called. Ironically, just after our scare, J got the call that there was a cancellation and we got in today at 1! Yes - the third apppointment and ultrasound in a week! (I never get tired of seeing those little babies on the screen, so it's fine by me...I just feel bad for it taking so much of J's time.)

The peri said everything looked great and that we don't need to worry about the spotting (unless something changes). J hasn't had any more bleeding at all so that is great. The Dr said it is pretty common to have some bleeding, especially with twins. She said there are too many twins for the two peris in our area to see them for every appointment, but that we will alternate appointments between the peri and the OB. Sounds great to me! Best of both worlds. We got some great views of the babies and this doctor was more willing to hazard a guess on the genders. In fact, she really looked unlike the other doctor...she said she is 60-70% sure that it is a boy and a girl!!! Of course I'm ecstatic at the possibility but I know things could change. J and I both thought she was more sure than she let on because she sounded very confident and we saw exactly what she was looking at on the screen...seemed pretty clear in both cases. The BIG ultrasound where they check everything over and tell you definitively (well as much as possible) will be August 4. In the meantime, we found out that we now have appointments every other week! Holy cow we have a lot coming up.

Here are pics from today!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Now I remember what the problem was called...

It's a separation of the amnion and chorion. Apparently they fuse between 14 and 16 weeks and we are just at the beginning of that. Of course I've been doing all kinds of research online now and am WAY more freaked out. Waaayyyy more freaked out. Please pray for our babies. :(

We had a scare this morning...

Ironically, after finally announcing the news to everyone via email last night, we had our first scare this morning. J woke up and found some bright red blood when she went to the bathroom. It wasn't a ton, but enough to be of concern. Thank God for our home doppler...she and R immediately used it to confirm the babies were still alive and the hearts were beating as normal. Luckily, we had a doctor's appointment scheduled this morning first thing anyway. This was the first time with the doctor we will probably see regularly going forward. She was really nice, which was great to find. She did all kinds of exams on J and everything looks fine. Apparently there are two parts to a placenta and they don't fuse until 16 weeks. Sometimes the gap between the two parts can cause a little bleeding? I didn't quite understand but she did see a little separation there, where the parts hadn't fused and she thought that was the cause of the bleed. She asked J to lie around for a few days and not lift the kids until the end of the pregnancy! Yikes. (That was regardless of the bleed - just her policy I guess.) She said she would probably bleed for the next couple of days and to expect that. B and I will go over the next two days to help J with the kids so she can take it easy.

Amazingly, I'm not overly freaked out about this. I know from reading message boards for so long that a lot of people have little bleeding incidents like this and that this far along it's usually not serious. Of course, it's still stressful and I was far more stressed before we saw the doctor, but I do feel it will be OK. We got to have another ultrasound this morning because of the whole scare and the babies were moving like crazy! For some reason the ultrasound was really, really clear and we could see the spines on both of them and their features more than ever before. It kind of helped me forget the scare this morning because I was so fascinated by what they were doing on screen! The one usually elusive baby was still more calm, but the other one moved everywhere and we all commented that "he" has REALLY long legs! LOL So, after realizing the doctor wasn't concerned about the bleeding, I had to ask the question: can you tell us the genders this time? The elusive baby wasn't in a good position, but little long legs sure looks to be a boy. Now the question is, did we see a boy the other day and again a boy today for the same baby, or did we see a boy for both babies at this point?! It was pretty clear today that one is a boy, complete with B's legs. :)

Even though the scare looks to be OK, prayers would really be appreciated! We have another appointment in 2 weeks.

Monday, July 7, 2008

14 Week Ultrasound

We're back from vacation! It was a great time, but we were also ready to be home. We got home at 1 am last night and had an ultrasound scheduled for first thing this morning. Fortunately we slept a lot on the plane. :)

One of the coolest things about being gone was that we left when we were about 12 1/2 weeks along and got back right when we turned 14 weeks - we're now officially in the second trimester! That's so exciting because I do finally feel that we can relax. In fact, I just got done writing a very long email announcement that will go to all of our friends to break the big news. It was amazing to write that email; I never thought I would see the day. I really believe the babies are coming now and couldn't be more thrilled. While on vacation I spent a lot of time reading the entire "what to expect in the first year" book. It was so much fun to learn about all the poop and bottles. Did I just say that? Seriously, I'm getting so excited.

We had the ultrasound this morning and everything looked great. The babies are measuring ahead now by a few days. They looked like little babies for the first time too rather than tiny little beans! We all "ooed" and "ahhed" a couple of times when one baby waved his/her hand and then another time moved the leg to a perfect position for the picture. When they move all around you don't necessarily see distinct body parts but in those two instances they were clear as day. It was soooo neat. I always feel like I'm going to start crying at ultrasounds. :) The only disappointment was that I was hoping we would find out genders early. Usually it is at 18 weeks, but sometimes they can tell at 14 weeks. We think she had an idea but didn't want to say. J looked up at the screen and said "I think that one is a boy" and the technician immediately said, "it could be, look at that" and pointed to a little something on the screen. It could have been something ELSE but it definitely seemed like she was thinking it was a boy with her immediate reaction to J's comment. Then she was referring a couple of times to the other baby with "she" so we don't know if that was a guess or if she was using it generically.

I have to say, my heart flipped (in a good way) when she pointed and said it could be a boy. I don't know how anyone could NOT find out early and just wait for delivery. That moment was amazing to me, to even think we MAY know. I can't even imagine what it will be like to finally put more of an identity to Baby A and Baby B. To give them names, to talk about them as real little people who will enter our lives for Christmas this year. It sounds odd since we didn't even find out the genders for sure, but even getting that guess made me realize what a magical moment it is going to be when we know.

I will have to post the pics later - I'm exhausted due to all the time changes, but I promise to put them up soon!