Thursday, August 28, 2008

We felt a baby!

J has been feeling the babies kick around now for several weeks. She started having little popping sensations even in the first trimester! So B and I have looked forward to when WE would be able to feel them from the outside for a while. Well, J emailed me earlier this week saying, "I think you guys can feel them now!" Last night J and R were over for our Bible study and afterward J thought we should try it. (They aren't big enough yet where the kicks are constant and predictable, so it would be just a try.) J positioned my hand where she was feeling Sara kicking around and after a little while I got a kick or a punch straight into my hand! It was amazing! I can't imagine that such a small baby could make such force. I felt some very light jabs before and after that, but that one time was really strong. B then switched places with me and he got to feel it too! I don't think he got the "super punch" that I got, but he did get to feel it. It's mind boggling to think that we "touched" Sara for the first time! Nathan wasn't very active while this was all going on so we'll have to get him going another time. J says that Sara is very active all the time and Nathan is more mellow. Uh oh...Sara will be a lot of work :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

I feel like I'm in a science experiment.

I love research and analysis. I have an MBA with an emphasis in Market Research (the intersection of marketing and statistics) and actually get excited about setting up experiments to test hypotheses about things. This week I've been thinking about what a ball of emotions I am right now and have noted various behaviors that are out of the ordinary for me. It occurred to me that I am like a "control group" for the emotional part of pregnancy that doesn't stem from the physical. Let me explain. In experimentation, the control group is the group of people who aren't exposed to something you test for so you can compare to another group that was exposed to something. For example, you could give a "control group" a survey about their feelings on a brand. At the same time you could have the "test group" watch a positive commercial for the same brand then answer the same survey. The difference in results between the test group and control group are presumably chalked up to the effectiveness of the commercial.

In pregnancy there are many emotional and physical things that happen. But what if you separate pregnancy into "only" the physical part without the emotions involved with actually adding a baby to your family (J's part, the surrogate) and "only" the emotional part with the knowledge that a baby is coming but no physical contributions from the pregnancy experience or even hormones (me, the intended parent)? It's a really interesting thought to break out the two components. I wanted to write a few traditional pregnancy-related things that I am experiencing without the physical component and maybe J can write a matching blog about the traditional pregnancy-related things that she is experiencing without the emotional component! (Note that I don't mean there are no emotions on her end, I'm referring specifically to the emotional aspect of mentally preparing for a baby that will be part of the family.)

The most interesting phenomenon that I'm seeing, and J and I have discussed, is nesting. It is well known that pregnant women "nest", or organize significantly, during their pregnancies to prepare the home for a baby. Now, I am a major planner by nature. But lately I have been taking planning and organizing to a whole new level. I am meticulously working out details of every aspect of every thing that could possibly be organized before the babies come. It occurred to me that maybe the "nesting" thing comes without the physical pregnancy. So I wondered if Jenn would "nest" even though there is no baby to prepare for...she said she has been! Isn't that interesting? She said she spent all weekend organizing stuff. So maybe nesting is BOTH physical and emotional!

It's also well known that pregnant women are especially emotional due to hormones. Well, I have been overly emotional for the last few weeks, and especially lately - without hormones! I get emotional about everything and cry at the drop of a hat! Here are a bunch of examples:

1. I've been extremely sad about the one year anniversary of my grandmother's passing coming up. I'm overwhelmed by the thought that she didn't get to know that we finally were having a baby and that I can't share this with her (we were extremely close). And it's all my fault; I couldn't get pregnant in time. Had we gotten pregnant when we started, she could have enjoyed her great grandchildren for a couple of years. I am racked with guilt even though I know I couldn't help it. I cry at least once a week about this lately.

2. Seeing baby clothes at the store makes my heart jump for joy! Really, seeing anything baby-oriented (magazines, etc.) makes my insides all warm and fuzzy. Sometimes it brings tears to my eyes for no reason at all, other than I can't believe it's happening. I seriously had a wall 50 feet high around me to ignore all things baby related for the last few years. Then I stuck a toe in the door, then an arm through, and now I have burst onto the scene, jumping at any chance to go to Babies R Us! But it sometimes makes me cry because I get emotional about it!

3. After years on message boards with others having trouble conceiving, you make a lot of "online friends". I still follow the journies of my friends still trying through either their blogs or message board posts. Several recently have had more IVF failures and every time it makes me cry. I feel the frustration and anger for them in a heartbeat. I so much want the happy ending for everyone.

4. I heard on the radio the other day that someone for the first time took advantage of Pasadena's "safe drop" program, where you can leave a baby that you don't want. I cried.

5. A friend of mine is working on adopting and had a match fall through. This was just after I heard about the baby "dropped off" in Pasadena. It's so unfair. I cried.

6. J posted a video of her last shot from about 10 weeks ago on her blog. I associate those shots with utter and complete failure, but in that video she was 12 weeks pregnant with our twin babies. It was such a weird thing to watch her do the shot that I had done so many times without result next to an adorable pregnant belly with OUR babies. I really can't describe it, but it was emotional for me to watch that, thinking back to everything we have come from. I cried.

7. Now that this is really seeming like it is going to happen I am having those traditional will I survive with no sleep? Do we really just have 3 months left before our lives change FOREVER (keep in mind we have been happily married for almost 9 years!)? When will we get to go camping again (favorite summer activity)? When will we get to go snowboarding again (favorite winter activity)? What will become of my career? Will I want to go back to work? Will I feel like everything I've built career-wise is for nothing? What if I'm not a good mom? What if I'm too strict? What if J regrets doing this because she thinks are kids are little terrors? :) I don't cry over these things but I know subconsciously I'm especially obsessed right now with the career questions. I've been dreaming LITERALLY every night for the last couple of months that it is the last day of school. Different situations, but always the last day of school. I couldn't figure out what that meant until last night when the dream was more specific. In the dream it was the last day of college and I was sad because I had wanted to take Spanish and never did, I had wanted to try tennis or soccer and never took it, I had wanted to learn more about psychology but didn't have time to take the class. I realized that all these last day of school dreams meant that I'm worried that all the things I have wanted to both learn and achieve will not go any further now that we're going to have a family. With my career in an uncertain mode, I am freaked out that from here on all my interests and personal achievement dreams may be dying. No matter how exciting it is to finally be having a family, anyone in their right mind would feel the pressure of facing a big life change and my subconscious is working on overdrive.

So, yes, I am a ball of emotions - no pregnant belly contributing! On the flip side of tears, I'm constantly in a state of excitement too. Ever since Nathan and Sara gained genders and names, they have become a real part of our family. We talk about them every day. We wonder if Nathan will be musical like B, or if Sara will have a fiery temper like me. We imagine what it will be like when we are driving to have Nathan and Sara riding in the back. We talk about how old they'll have to be to go backpacking or camping. We talk about the values we want to instill in them. We discuss our ideas on discipline. We ask each other how we would handle various situations that we see come up with other kids. We talk about what it will be like to hold them the first time. Today I casually said something in conversation with B about Nathan and Sara's playroom. I guess it's hard to describe how weird it is to both of us that the word "playroom" would be thrown around in OUR vocabulary. B and I looked at each other after I said it and B reminded me, "we're talking about a playroom because we're having a family". Although it could have gone either way, instead of crying I jumped up and down and straight into his arms.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Time with twins

Last night I spent time with my friend K and her boy/girl twins who are 18 months old. It's really cool to "see into the future" a bit! There's no doubt about it - there is a lot of work ahead! At this age, it is hard to contain one wondering baby, but when there are two it is a whole other ball game. :) That said, I absolutely can't wait. Her little babies just melt my heart - it's like double the cuteness at every moment (OK, some double the trouble I'm sure she would say, but I just see cuteness right now). I think the cutest thing was when it was time to go upstairs for baths. The babies can crawl up the stairs on their own (with adults behind them of course) and it was hilarious to see their two little diapered bottoms hovering up the stairs toward the bathroom. I had the honor of soaping up and rinsing one of them and I felt like a little girl playing house - like getting to do something that I hoped someday would be for real for me. It sometimes seems impossible that I will ever have a scene like that of my own where something so cute would be part of a daily routine and not a distant thought. But spending time with K is especially encouraging because she had multiple failed IVFs herself. It doesn't seem like long ago at all that she and I would get together to talk through all the hardships and failures and wonder if they would ever come to an end. To see her now in full mommy mode, looking like a pro who has been doing it for years, is such a wonderful thing. It inspires me so much! On a side note, K also gave us "twin" Winnie the Pooh stuffed toys last night...they are OH SO CUTE! I love Winnie the Pooh so much! :)

I also had some time with twins a couple of weeks ago when I had lunch with my friend A, who has identical twin girls after failed IVFs. That, too, was amazing! She and I cycled at the same times, had similar treatments, and were with the same doctor. I remember vividly similar conversations as I mentioned having with K, discussing all of our most recent research about what could possibly be wrong, what kind of treatments to do, whether or not surrogacy might work for us (something she had considered also), etc. Her babies are now 10 months old and she too looks like a pro. She sat the girls down in their chairs for lunch at Red Robin and then alternated between them with the feeding ... much to the amusement of just about everyone within sight of us! I've read in a several twin books that people in public places are fascinated by twins but I never really got that until lunch with A. People all around us were pointing and smiling and watching their every move. It was like being with a celebrity, though A didn't even notice (she's so used to it)! A couple even came up and told us that their twins are now 45! A lent us her "double snap n go" stroller that infant car seats fit into for a few months (then you go on to a full size stroller with seats). It's awesome and waiting for the babies! :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Peri appointment today

I'm headed out the door, but I just wanted to make a quick update to say that we had a peri appointment today and everything was great. The babies were active and seem to have grown so much since we last saw them just two weeks ago! I really wanted to make this post right now even though I don't have much time because the pics we got were pretty cool this time. :) Check this out, it's Sara with what appears to be her thumb in her mouth:

Here is Nathan looking straight at the "camera" (head on the right, body to left, with arms up in the air next to ears; the "hole" in the body is the heart):

I'll write more later! Oh and J's belly is measuring 27 weeks for a singleton...though we are 20 weeks! We asked her if she is scared about how big she will get with twins and she said she's not, that she expected it. LOL

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The ultimate protector of car seats: Simon

OK, I know this probably shouldn't happen because we don't want little cat hairs all over the car seats before the babies get here...BUT I couldn't help but take a picture when Simon crawled in. It was just too cute.

While I'm in my photo folder from the other night, I might as well post this one of the car seats together (can't you just see a little boy and girl in them??! lol).

On a side note, B went to an Angels (baseball) game last night AND...are you ready...made his first solo purchase (completely unprompted by me) of 2 baby outfits! Let's just say that B hasn't been as excited as I am in general about the cuteness level of baby clothes, so the fact that he bought them little Angels baseball onesies on his own was just awesome. It was so cute to see what he picked out. Unfortunately they are 6-9 months (only sizes they had) so it will be a little while before they can wear them, but they'll sure be cute to look at in the meantime. :)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A beautiful Saturday

Yesterday was one of the days B and I love...a day with no plans. Maybe we are weird in this, but there is always so much going on, so much to do, that days with absolutely no plans hardly ever happen. The two of us, on such a Saturday, are absolutely gleeful and giddy. It's not that we want to be boring ALL the time, but our personalities are such that we both need home-hibernation at some regular interval in order to be sane. B works Sunday through Thursday and I work Monday through Friday, so our only mutual day together is Saturday and that makes it tougher. We only have 4 possibilities per month for a no-plan day so they are few and far between. So what ends up happening on a no-plan day?

We read a lot, we watched the Olympics, we watched a comedy special, we ate and ate and ate, we played pool (we have a pool table), we napped, I searched for nursery themes online. But then we broke the cardinal rule of a no-plan day: we left the house. If we had PLANNED to go out, it would not have been fun. But on a no-plan day it CAN be acceptable, upon both parties' agreement, to leave. :) I really wanted to go to Babies R Us to get something bigger than clothes...the next step up. B wanted to get a new game for our Wii. Fortunately, Babies R Us and Best Buy are next to each other where we live so it was perfect. B got a trivia game for the Wii which we ended up playing the rest of the day and I CAR SEATS!

Yes, this feels big. I had picked the ones I wanted online, including the fabric, and Babies R Us had exactly the ones I wanted. We brought them home and I immediately tore open the boxes to prop up our new car seats (one pink, one blue) in the room with us. It seems like the closest thing possible right now to actually having babies in them! I was literally beaming with excitement, picturing our two little people in there. We even took pictures of them for a future scrapbook.

I must have really felt like we were living on the edge by buying something that screams babies as much as car seats do because I subsequently had nightmares last night that something horrible happened to the babies. It's like my subconscious was saying, "something bad can still happen, don't buy any more stuff!" I hate to feel this way, I feel like normal people wouldn't! But on the other hand, I'm a major planner. I feel like we need to be completely ready by mid-November. That's 3 months, and we planned to buy stuff over time, not all on one day or something. So logically the car seats seemed reasonable, but emotionally I think it messed with my head last night. I hope that goes away soon so I can get back to picking things out. :)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Friends and Pregnancies

I can't think of a worse few months in my life than about two years ago when we started IVF, had subsequent failures, started to lose all hope and simultaneously received pregnancy announcement after announcement after announcement at the same time from friends. It was like rubbing salt in wounds. I'm just being honest - it's nearly impossible to be happy about baby announcements when you feel like you will never realize your own dreams of having a baby. And for whatever reason, quite literally everyone we know had a baby that summer. It got to the point that it felt like the universe was against me because EVERY time we talked to someone we hadn't seen in a while, they told us they were pregnant. I even started avoiding talking to anyone I hadn't talked to in a long time because there was no doubt in my mind that they would be pregnant.

When all your friends get pregnant and you can't, it adds to the severe frustration of "WHY is this happening to us?" But I'm convinced that the second most difficult aspect of it (after the constant reminder you can't have something everyone else can) is that you feel left behind. You feel that you are missing out on the opportunity for camaraderie that comes from bonding over one of the most amazing times in life. My friends were all exchanging pictures, having play dates, celebrating at baby showers and getting together to talk about their new lives...I was giving myself shots every day and driving to medical procedures. As much as I wanted a baby, I also wanted to have a baby when our friends did, to take part in the exciting life transitions. I felt robbed.

The exception to the 'all people we know had a baby in the summer of 2006' rule was one of our best friends. He had just started dating a girl that summer whom we loved right away and they later married. They really were on the "last frontier" in terms of close friends without kids and it has been so awesome to share so many fun times with them while everyone else moved on to "familyhood". I am so grateful for that! After we got "pregnant", I started thinking about how much I wished they would be having kids too, so we could all experience it together.

Well, I'm gleeful to say...we found out yesterday that they are pregnant and due just 2 months after us! I'm so very excited for them AND for us. LOL

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Baby Name Saga

My whole life I have loved unique names...really unique names. As a child I used to doodle on my pages in class with the most unusual names I could come up with. One still sticks in mind:
Katridiana Narisia. And that is what we have decided to name our girl.

Just kidding!!! LOL (though that WAS a name I created at one point, I now realize how horrendous that is!)

Later I loved the name Larissa. All of my eventual motherhood dreams included a baby named Larissa. In sixth grade, I made up the name Kella (which, incidentally, I still think is an awesome name). My friend and I decided we hated our names and were going to change them at school. One day we came wearing name tags...mine said, "hello, my name is now Kella". It stuck for a couple of days and then I decided it was too much work to change my identity and gave up.

It's an amazing thing, after years of dreaming about names as a young girl, to have the opportunity to ACTUALLY give someone a name. It's really one of the most amazing things about this whole experience so far. It's just so common for little girls to fall in love with names they want to give their baby eventually...and to actually get to the point to pick one name out of the entire world to give your precious baby, is just an incredible honor. And we get to pick two!

I could talk about baby names with B for days and days on end, as he quickly found out. B is the type of person who HATES indecision, even about fun decisions like this. He hates ongoing discussions about possibilities. It makes Christmas shopping (or any shopping) with him excrutiatingly painful because we'll find something and I will have to continue looking to make sure we have picked the perfect gift...while he thinks we had already found it 6 hours before. :) I could see that we would never come to a decision unless I implemented a more structured process so I did.

I went through the top 1000 boy and girl names from last year, copying into a document all the ones I would seriously consider for our own kids. I guess I'm pretty picky because I only had about 12 names each for the girl and boy! I LIKE lots of other names, but love a lot fewer. So here was the list I made:

Boys (the number in parentheses is the rank of popularity in 2007):

Ethan (4)
Connor (8)
Alexander (15)
Aaron (16)
Tristan (18)
Nathan (23)
Collin (38)
Luke (46)
Mason (56)
Tyler (66)
Carson (none)

Ava (1)
Hannah (11)
Haley (15)
Ella (16)
Savannah or Savana (33)
Sara (49)
Riley (52)
Alexis or Alexa (74/60)
Rachel (62)
Avery (71)
Kenzie (81)
Kenna or Makenna (none)

B agreed that if I made the first step to make such a list, that would be the list we would work with. I made this list and sent an email to B. It said, "your children's names are on this list somewhere. Please remove your least favorite name from each list and send back to me." I didn't know if I could finally intrigue him enough to pick names, but the process was just what he needed...a couple of minutes later I got an email back that he had taken a couple of names from. Gleeful that I had found a way to engage him, I removed 2 more names and sent it back to him. Couple of minutes later, he removed 2 more names. We continued the back and forth. Through this process we got down to the following:

Boys :




I have to say something about Kenna. When we did our first IVF, naively thinking it might actually work, we went to lunch at the beach to have fun talking about names. At some point we came up with the name Kenna and both felt it was perfect. In the course of the last 2 years, whenever we would refer to our future possible child, it was always by the name of Kenna. Kenna has felt like a part of our lives for much longer than before we knew we were pregnant. I just always assumed if we had a girl she would be Kenna. The problem with the name is that it is unusual and people always have weird/uncomfortable reactions to it (when we have mentioned it) - friends, family, everyone. That said, it was a given that it was on the table since it had been with us so long. At the end of the list I provided B with "suggested pairings" (yes, like wine and cheese) that I thought worked well together:

Connor/Carson and Kenna
Ethan and Ella
Nathan and Sarah

I have to say that Nathan is one of the few "classic" boys names that I have always loved, so it seemed to fit nicely on the list. It seemed like it should go with a nice classic girl's name so I wrote out "Nathan and Sarah". For some reason, they instantly sounded right. I've never thought twice about the name Sarah in my life. If you had asked me to think about it I would have said it's a pretty name but it never stood out to me. The fact that it struck me when going through the top 1000 names is really interesting in retrospect...but even more interesting that it made it to our mutual top 4 girls' names. Nathan and Sarah just sounded like they belonged to our family.

The more we talked about various name pairs for the twins, the more we realized that although we love a lot of modern names, we don't picture US with kids having those names. We just don't seem like a family that would have unusual names. And then the most unexpected decision came. After a legacy of unusual name creations like Katridiana Narisia, we are going to name our children.......Nathan and Sara.

After deciding on the names once and for all I was really excited...then I felt sad about losing Kenna. So after further discussion, this has been solved and all now seems right in the world...the full names of our children will be:

Nathanael Bryan (B's name is Bryan)
Sara Makenna (Makenna sounds better than Kenna with Sara)

Now I can go buy those cute wooden letters to hang in the nursery. :)

Monday, August 4, 2008



Yes, they are boy/girl twins! And everything measures great! We went to Target right after and bought a cute little outfit for each. :) The babies have grown so much since we last saw them. They weigh 10 ounces and look so much more human now. The girl even yawned on the ultrasound! At the end, they were facing each other where we could see both at the same time and the girl reached out and punched the boy a couple of times!
I will post ultrasound pictures after I have a chance to scan everything in!