Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Voice of Experience

News about the twins has spread to people I don’t frequently see, both in my department and at work.* Actually, often it’s just news of the pregnancy, and then people are shocked when they hear how far along I am** and relieved when they hear I’m carrying twins.

In any case, one of these exchanges led to the tidbit that a woman at work (someone I have a lot of respect for, though we don’t actually work together at all - she’s one of those people who exudes good energy, y’know?) is the mother of boy/girl twins. So I saw this woman today, and confirmed that she has twins, and then told her about mine. Her kids are 10 now, and the result of IVF followed by an incredibly scary and complicated pregnancy. (Which is to say, she really gets it.) And she’s got it all together now (or at least makes it look like she does). She didn’t sugar coat things. She said, basically, the first year will be hell. But it’s all worth it, and they’re fantastic now, and they get along really well and their personalities complement each other and who knows what will happen when they get out of elementary school, but right now they are each others’ best friends.

Mostly, I’m busy amassing advice on dealing with the here and now - what do we need to get and do? How are we going to manage the early days? Will I be able to breastfeed? What classes should we take? Etc. etc. Talking to someone who is so far removed from the baby days was really reassuring. I know there will be new questions and new challenges (hell, I’m stressing about those already, too - How will they get along? When do we separate them in school? How do we ensure they’re able to have a sense of themselves as individuals and not just “the twins”?) but it was nice to see that it won’t always be like this - stuck deep in the unknown, buried under a pile of questions.

* However, news has yet to spread to many of our friends, because J and I both find it really awkward to send an email out of the blue announcing the pregnancy news. It’s something we have to work up to, I think. So everyone who sees me walking down the street knows I’m pregnant, but many of our friends who aren’t in the area don’t have a clue. We’re working on that, though.

** Because I am, apparently, huge. Or something. More politely, one friend told me I was about as big at 20 weeks as she was at 30+.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Heads and Shoulders, Knees and Toes

On Friday we went for our anatomy scan, where they measure and count and do lots of things that look mostly unintelligible to the untrained eye. As I settled down on the incredibly flat table (seriously, they think this is confortable bearable for pregnant people??), the tech looked through my file and said, “So, this is an IVF/ICSI pregnancy?” And I thought, Oh, no. Here we go. Critique or commentary or something I don’t want to deal with right now.

“Yes,” I said, “it is.”

“Where did you do it?” she asked. I told her the clinic, and she confirmed which doctor, and I thought, This isn’t so bad. I guess she sees a lot of these and it makes for good small talk.

“I’m seeing him, too,” she said.

Oh,” I said. “He’s very good - we liked him a lot.” And then she asked about how long we’d been trying, and I told her what we’d done before that, and she asked about the ICSI, and we told her why we did it and what we thought of it.

“So, this job must be hard sometimes,” I said. “Looking at pregnancy all day.”

“Sometimes,” she said. “And sometimes it’s encouraging.”

Over the course of the rest of the scan, we’d occasionally talk about other aspects of the process, or what we thought of it, what meds, what procedures. We joked about my ease with the transvag ultrasound. Mostly she asked questions and we answered them. I wasn’t sure how much to ask her, so I didn’t ask much. In the end, I think I wished her good luck.

I can’t imagine how difficult and poignant that must be, to do ultrasounds on pregnant women all day every day while going through an IVF. Lots of people come through there for routine scans, I know, but she must also see the worst-case scenarios plenty. She must know that getting sperm and egg together and settled is only part of the challenge. And she’s doing it, now, while she lubes and scans other people’s pregnant bellies. I just can’t imagine.

(On the other hand, I can imagine the secret thrill at the possibility of having ready access to an ultrasound machine. Stim scans? Easy. Early ultrasounds? No problem. Though I think the machine is probably pretty hard to operate while lying on the terrible table.)


The babies are fine. Measuring one day apart and right on target. My cervix is long (longer than my peri’s last scan, actually) and closed. The babies seem to have all the right parts in the right places. The tech (and the supervising MD who came in later) were having trouble visualizing all the angles of Baby A’s heart (at first due to the baby’s position, and later due to too much motion) but the consulting peri who came in at the end was really reassuring about it all. There’s also a potential issue with one of the umbilical cords potentially being attached more toward the side than the center of the placenta, but the peri didn’t seem too concerned about that, either. So far, one placenta is anterior and one is posterior, and neither is too close to the cervix. I tried to count fingers and toes, but the tech was more concerned with blood flow and heart rates and bone length (all very important, but not so meaningful to my untrained eye).

Current status: so far so good, and holding steady. 19 weeks today.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Negotiating a New Identity

So, we went to our first Parents of Twins group meeting this week. (It’s actually Mothers of Twins, but since J came too I’ve been trying to be inclusive.) It was a weird experience. There were several other pregnant women - I was actually the least pregnant by several weeks. Except for the woman who is expecting twins via a surrogate, it wasn’t clear to me that any of the rest had any trouble getting there or that this was anything but a surprise. Maybe I’m just so used to being open to that and they’re busy moving on or redefining their identities. Or maybe infertiles don’t join the group.

It was another version of the “do I still consider myself infertile now that I’m pregnant” question. And apprently, the answer was yes, sort of. I felt more comfortable with the slightly older pregnant woman who might have been through treatments to get there. I couldn’t completely shake the journey that brought me there, nor could I ignore the other women’s situations. But at the same time, I was trying to make sense of my new identity - mom of twins.

I generally dislike it when women define themselves solely in their capacity as mothers. Don’t get me wrong, I think mothering is incredibly important, but those women on message boards who use names like “Britney’s Mom” or whatever just bug me a little. I’m not planning to give up my name when I have these kids. I’ll still be me. I hope. But I do understand that a huge part of my identity will shift has already begun to shift.


On another note, what the heck are receiving blankets used for? Apparently I’m supposed to get a boatload of them, and I’m not sure why. Anyone?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

In which I ramble about planning and preparation

(mostly pregnancy related, and probably pretty boring, so be warned)

Thank you all so so much for the words of encouragement (especially from Suz - OMG she had time to read AND post? Maybe this is do-able after all!) I have started to take some action to quell the freak-out. I’ve got the contact info for one of the local Moms of Multiples groups - they have a meeting on Monday and I’m trying to get up the courage to go. I’m not usually shy, exactly, but I don’t like walking blindly into new situations with no idea of what to expect. It makes me nervous. So now I’m trying to bring myself to email them so I’ve made contact before the meeting. Does anyone know if Dads of Multiples are generally welcome at these things? Because I think he’d like to come.

Also, though they’re not on the blogroll over there --> yet, I’ve started reading a few moms of multiples blogs. So far, most of them are useful and encouraging and inspiring, which I think I really needed. If you know of any (or are one) please let me know so I can add them to the list. Please?

Other action-taking: I’m working on following Moxie’s advice and starting to line up plans and support. It turns out that I am much less interested in the details of a birth-plan than I ever thought I’d be (mostly because it feels like a bit of a waste of energy - it’s all well and good to say that I’d like the baby placed on my tummy or that I’d like J to be the one to cut the cord, but I’m pretty sure that none of that will really be an option. I mean, I guess it’s always possible, but it just seems so irrelevant in the grand scheme of things now.) However, I’ve been thinking that I might like to have an AFTER-birth plan (not for the afterbirth - ewww - but for after all of that). I don’t know if this is silly or practical or what, and I feel like I’m way ahead of myself with it. But I want to breastfeed, even if the babies are early and in the NICU, and I think that means I need to work on that in advance. For now, I think it means researching the LC options at the hospital where I’ll be, and elsewhere in the area.

I’ve also been deep into the list-making. My mom has offered to come down for a couple of days to help do stuff around the house, and then a couple of weeks later my in-laws will be here for much the same purpose. So we’re trying to think through the things that need to be done that they can help with. I think J and his brother and father will be working on condensing our various storage areas to make room for the things that need to be moved out of the, um, spare bedroom so it can become the, um, nursery. My mother, bless her little disorganized heart, also wants to help - so I’m trying to figure out what she can do (given that organizing and sorting and cleaning really aren’t her strongest attributes). I think maybe we’ll work on the craft room, which is also a storage room, so that when my FIL finds things that belong in there, I’ll have someplace to put them. So that’s a whole heck of a lot of organizing.

There’s more, but I think I’ll spare you all the details. Let’s just say that I’m channeling all of my anxiety into planning and organizing and hoping that will help a bit.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Insecurities rising

Every time we have a fight, or even a non-fight -- a pesky disagreement, a mutual out-of-sorts moment -- every time, I worry about how we’re going to do this. How are we going to make it through the ridiculous ordeal of twins? We tell people, and they ask if our families are nearby. No, actually, they’re not that close. Mine are about 3 hours away. His are across the country. We have friends who are excited and want to come play with the babies, but not necessarily the kind that are going to organize meal rotations or come over to do laundry. We have fantastic neighbors who will be happy to do some occasional grocery shopping, but other than all that we’re mostly on our own. And I’m scared. I’m scared that we can’t even take care of ourselves right now. We can’t get the house clean, or organized. We can’t figure out what to have for dinner. I can barely make it off the couch much of the time. And yes, some of that is due to the pregnancy itself - it’s changed my appetite and my energy levels, among many other things. But some of it is just us. Maybe we’re really not ready for this. Maybe we can’t do it. Maybe we shouldn’t have tried so hard to get here. I’m trying really hard not to go down the “meant to be” path, because I don’t actually believe that at all, but tonight in the midst of it all I just don’t know how we’re going to do it.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Sometimes I feel like a bit of a fraud.

When, upon telling someone of the pregnancy, I don't follow it with a cautious note or a worried frown.

When I rest my hand on my growing midsection (for comfort or to clarify that this is not just my fat getting the better of me).

When I make plans for the future that involve paint swatches, or furniture arrangements, or being on maternity leave.

The normalcy of the actions is so foreign to me I feel I must be masquerading - I don't really deserve to plan a nursery, or look at strollers, or joke about how my exhaustion now is just preparation for later sleep deprivation.  (Actually, I find the last one annoying - fraud or no.) 

Yesterday, someone who had just learned of the pregnancy asked if she could touch my belly - it's my first random belly touch.  At least she asked (!) but I couldn't figure out how to say no, politely.  I think as it becomes more frequent (see, there I am assuming it will become more frequent) I'll get better at asking people NOT to touch.  But right now it's all just so foreign that I feel like I'm making it up, bit by bit, as I go along.  Or reciting some script I've heard before, complete with a laugh track.

I had meant to write about telling, and I will, especially since I'm getting to the point where it's hard to avoid.  Meanwhile, J has managed to tell only a few people at work.  In some ways, I want him to tell more so he gets to experience the weird pseudo-normalcy (and brief thrill) of other people's excitement.  But every time another person finds out, it's one more boundary that has fallen and one more mask I have to put on.  No one wants to hear "Yes, I'm pregnant with twins.  At least for now." or "Well, we expect them in July, assuming I can make it that far."  So I bite my tounge, and try to act like I actually believe this is happening.