Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What Comes After DD?

I now know the answer to this question: E. I am the proud owner of a 38E maternity bra. It’s just a regular bra, in a large size, with the word “maternity” slapped onto it so they can justify jacking up the price a bit. Still, it makes a world of difference to actually have one that fits. I changes the landscape of my profile and makes me look different n clothes. What took me so long? I wore it out of the store.

I spent some time this afternoon in Destination Maternity, trying to find something to wear to Thursday night’s can’t-wear-jeans event. I still feel like such an outsider in these sort of places, like someone is going to pop up and say Silly girl, you can’t be here.

The visit wasn’t as nearly traumatic as I thought it would be. In fact, it was rather pleasant. The staff trips over themselves to help you and they are constantly asking me if I wanted water or orange juice or any help at all. I ended up buying a nice stack of stuff. Turns out maternity clothes—shirts and sweaters and skirts—feel so much better than regular clothes. Once again, I bow to the powers and comfort of elastic. And there was something about looking at myself in those mirrors that made me look more pregnant. My stomach looked huge Huge. I did just eat lunch, but still. And maternity clothes make you look pregnant. These oversized shirts I’ve been wearing just make me look thicker.

In contractor news, I came home just as the contractor was leaving. No room progress. Today was “measuring day.” In other words, today is the day when you come home and look around and say “What did he DO all day??” Measure.

One row of Somoas gone....

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

If (Only) These Walls Could Talk

So much for progress. I left the apartment today because the contractor was coming, and I really shouldn't be around when he is kicking up dust (bad for babies) and creating a mess (bad for me). It was fine, because I had little errands to run and then I stopped by my sister-in-law’s to spend some time with my niece and to nap on her couch and eat delicious homemade chicken noodle soup.

When I got home, I was so excited to open up the door and see progress. We were told that the frame for the room would be up, and probably also some sheetrock. Imagine my surprise when I saw…nothing. Not a single thing. I was hoping to stand in the babies’ room tonight and just…be there. The sheetrock was there and all the tools were there, but nothing was done. Now I know this is par for the course for contractor, and I don’t expect miracles, but I should point out that I suffer seriously from any slight change in my habitat. I really struggle with it on a psychological level, with some deep roots that I can trace back to childhood. And did I mention the nesting? We have picked out cribs and paint and carpet and I think an armoire and even the hamper.

I am ready to get this room built before I slip back into “These babies are going to disappear” mode. I am almost superstitious that something bad will happen if we buy anything or do anything baby-related. It was devastating to pack up books and magazines and the very few things that I had bought during my other pregnancies. I could have nothing around to remind me of what I lost. In such a situation, what does one do with a room? A whole room? Filled with baby stuff? I can’t even imagine. And that fear is so real that there are times when I almost chicken out on pulling the trigger on this remodeling job. It takes very little to push me into the negative space, and a lot to get me to the positive space.

On a happy note, I do think having the room and then filling it up will help drag me into the realm of “This is really happenening.” Because it still feels too good to be true. I know I sound like a broken record (skipping CD?) but I can’t believe that after all we have been through, we are at this point. I have never felt so grateful for something in my life.

The lack of progress may have been a low point in the day, but Nicole brightened the night with stolen Girl Scout cookies. I love those Samoa cookies with a passion but lack any scout connections, much to my dismay. Someone gave Nicole a bag full of boxes of cookies to share with her employees, so she pulled aside the box of Samoas for me ( a misuse of executive privileged?). They are chilling in the fridge as I write this, and will be a central part of dessert (along with another cake I baked…let’s see if this one lasts more than a couple days). It will be hard not to eat the entire box in one night. I really need to learn to pace myself.

I just read somewhere (can’t remember where) that the average couple only talks 15 minutes a day. Isn’t that sad? I speak to my friend Jen more than that every day; it seems strange to think I sometimes speak to her more than I speak to Nicole (at least during the work week). But that is because Jen and I can talk during the day, since neither of us work (and she has downtime when her twins are sleeping). That whole statistic is one of those reminders that relationships actually take work. Nicole and I went through so much during the years of TTC, and the m/c’s and all the failed cycles. During crisis mode, you don’t really think “Are we talking enough?” You think “How am I going the get through this day?” I am happy to be at the point again when I am focus on things like making sure we have meaningful exchanges that last longer than the length of four songs.

Pictured above is me in pajamas at 20 weeks, side view. Let’s just say I am not thrilled to notice that it seems like I am carrying babies in my a$$. I hide my head in shame. And I have to stuff this body into some decent semi-formal wear by Thursday. Ha! In other body news, my belly button is half popped out, which is kinda freaky.

Three more sleeps until the next Level II and who knows how many sleeps till the room is done or even started.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Halfway There

On Sunday, I hit the 20-week mark, which means that if I am lucky enough to stay pregnant full term, then I am exactly at the halfway point. It’s more likely that I will not go full term, since twins like to show up early. Which further means that I am more than halfway through this pregnancy, a concept that absolutely confounds me. I saw my nephew today and he saw my stomach and said “Babies are almost here!” I think that is his four-year-old way of saying I am getting big!

I had my first Movement Panic Attack, since the babies decided that they didn’t want to keep up their Popping. They were so active the other night, so I just assumed they would be active every night, at the same time, doing the same thing. Well, not quite. On Saturday night, if my womb could make a noise, it would be the sound of crickets. I don’t think I felt a single pop. That lead to a string of poor food choices on Sunday in an attempt to force said babies into a sugar high. Sugary cereal, a vanilla milkshake, a chocolate truffle, orange juice, all in the name of sugar high, which, in theory, would create a Popping chain reaction.

Then I stooped even lower. I read online that some women will shine a flashlight on the uterus. This, apparently, bothers babies, who wiggle and squirm, ostensibly to get away from said offensive light. Others say the babies don’t mind the lights, they are just reacting to it. Either way, I decided to give it a try, justifying it by thinking if it were SO bad, there would have to be a warning on all flashlights.

I had Nicole do the honors, and she agreed, but if you looked closely at her almost imperceptibly shaking head and subtle eye rolls, she was not thrilled to partake in such activities. (There was also something about the limp-wrist hold that screamed “This is ridiculous. And maybe mean.”) But I think it worked: I did feel some popping after the light experiment. And that reassured me for about a second.

Now is the time when I wish I listened to my friend Jen, who warned me not to get crazy about the whole movement thing. But I apparently can find something to worry about all of the time.

I was additionally reassured by lots of information online, which says movement is in fact very sporadic in the beginning. You’ll feel it one day, and not the next. It becomes more regular as time goes on, meaning, in a couple of weeks. This is not what I really imagined: I thought it would be more like a switch: Babies start moving and don’t stop. Is it too much to ask that they check in a couple times a days with a few kicks?

The contractor begins this week to make the babies’ room. We picked up some paint colors and looked at some carpet swatches. I am overwhelmingly opposed to wall-to-wall carpeting, but the babies will have that in their little room. And even though I am against too much pink, their room will be pink (well, a soft, soft, soft, light pink). It just seems like the right thing to do. What is happening to me? I am so excited for this room to be done so I can start officially Nesting. I am ready to buy a dresser and their cribs and start hanging pictures and things like that. I am beginning to get very excited. I still can’t believe this is happening to me. It truly shocks me to look down at my stomach and think that there are two babies in there. Two squirming, getting-bigger babies. Also shocking is wearing elastic waistband jeans. And my rapidly expanding everything.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Double Pops

I am beginning to believe that those pops I feel really are moving babies. And now I feel awful; because I can’t remember when I first felt them. Doesn’t that make me a bad mother already? My list of offenses is getting long we better start a therapy fund for these kids. I asked my sister-in-law when she felt movement with my nephew and she said “Oh, I was on the train going to work. It was 7:15 on a Tuesday and I felt a pop. I was 17 weeks 2 days.” She practically remembers what she wore. Every detail of the seminal moment is etched in her brain. Me, I am looking through my own blog to see when I first mentioned it (Thursday, January 18th, when I was 18w4d). So that would most likely mean that I felt something the day before. But where or when, I couldn’t begin to say.

But whatever it is, it is getting more frequent. Last night was incredible. I came home from class around 9:00 and stayed up way after Nicole went to bed. I was laying on the couch trying to bore myself to sleep and it started: Lots and lots of little pops. First it was just Baby A, the overachiever in the movement department. And then Baby B made a rare and welcomed appearance. There was one moment when both kicked me at the same time! They stayed up till almost 1:00 a.m. with this little off-and-on popping. It was like they were having a party. It was unbelievable.

Then this morning I woke up early as usual. No pops. But right after I got up and went to the bathroom, and came back to lay down, the popping started again. Maybe I woke them up? I moved myself and my body pillow to the couch. When Nicole got up. I told her that the babies were up and moving around really late last night, which prompted Nicole to give them their first lecture. I rolled on my back so she could explain that we were early-to-bedders and early-to-risers and that they needed to start getting used to that schedule. She even quoted Ben Franklin. It was funny because when she was speaking, ALL popping stopped. But as soon as she finished and went inside, they started up again. I think we know who the disciplinarian in the family is.

I have probably packed on an extra 3 pounds drinking sugary drinks and eating Gummi Bears (excuses, excuses) and laying on my left side to see if the babies move. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But every time it happens, it makes me feel so good. I can’t wait until Nicole can feel it from the outside, but I have a feeling that is going to be a while.

Emotions are still running rampant. Yesterday I heard Don Henley’s “The Heart of the Matter” in some store and the lyrics made me cry. How much more of this emotionality can I withstand? I haven’t heard that song in years and I certainly didn’t think much about the lyrics in the past. But, wow, those lyrics seem profound now. (“How can love survive in such a graceless age?”)

We have a birthday dinner tonight and will probably be going out to Long Island on Sunday. In their words, lots of distractions to get us a couple days closer to the next sonogram. Next week, the contractor is building the babies’ room. I am simultaneously over-the-moon and terrified. Nicole and I have talked a lot about how we are going to decorate the room (light, light pink walls, light green carpet and cherry cribs), and just thinking about it makes me excited. But then that old familiar terror sneaks back in.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Clothes Call

Last night was an exercise in clothing humiliation. We had tickets to an opera, which meant that I had to get dressed up for the first time in a while. And that, sadly, means no elastic waistband pants. About an hour before we had to leave, I went through my closet, foolishly thinking I can get away with wearing one of my skirts, since most of them sit so low on my hips anyway, and it was my stomach that was getting bigger and not, say, my hips, right? Well, practically none of my skirts fit. At all. I couldn’t get them zipped up on the side or the back, thanks to my expanding stomach and, apparently, expanding other parts.

I finally found one that didn’t look ridiculous, and I even found a shirt that covered my stomach, thanks in part to the fact that the skirt, which used to sit so low on me that I would have to make sure my underwear wasn’t showing, now comes up to over my belly button. The skirt covers my stomach, but then sort of falls down, creating an oh-so-lovely tent-like appearance. I just felt like a blob, fat, stuffed into a skirt that I can maybe wear for a couple more weeks, which is good since we have another one in about two weeks. But, again, believe me, I am so happy to be in this position.

We went to an opera back in November when I was around nine weeks, and I remember thinking that by the next time opera, I would be almost 5 months. It seemed so improbable. And I said then that if something awful happened, we wouldn’t come to this performance, since it would just be too sad (yet another thing ruined by infertility). And yet, there we were, me stuffed a little tighter in the seat. I still can’t believe it. Baby A seemed to like the experience, because she was kicking a lot during the performance. Baby B may have also been moving around, too, which is so not like Baby B, who seems to be the calmer of the two.

I don’t think they can actually hear the music, and I am still not even sure if that is movement I am feeling or just gas or, more likely, stomach fat multiplying. My ob/gyn tells me because of the anterior placentas, it will be hard to really feel anything for a while. But I am feeling something. And I like to think it is movement, which means we are getting dangerously close to the months when I will start obsessing over movement, despite the ministrations of my friend Jen, who warns me not to get caught up in that.

Clothes in general are really becoming an issue. Thank goodness Nicole is the opposite of me: I like all my clothes tight and form-fitting (not painted on, just not baggy) while she favors (in casual wear, at least) the oversized, non-form-fitting clothes. So I have been raiding her closets for shirts and turtlenecks and sweaters. Thank goodness for her button-downs collection, which I always argued was too large (do you really need a shirt in six shades of, say, blue?) and now I am wondering why she can’t have about 20 more of these shirts. She is not the skirt-wearing type, so I am on my own in that department. I’m in charge of my own bottoms.

Yesterday, we met with another contractor about building the babies’ room. The first one never followed up with an estimate. Nice. But we really like this one, and he can start very soon, which is great because I am getting really excited to get this started and done. Nicole and I talked more about colors and we may have agreed to a soft, soft petal pink room color with a mint green rug. It will look good with the dark wood blinds and the dark cribs we want to get. Yes, I know pink is the opposite of gender neutral but we do need a light color to brighten up the room. And I think I may have scared Nicole with this very girly pink chandelier-y type think that I emailed her a picture of. What is happenening to me? Maybe it is just a stage. After all, the Girl News is only officially a little over three days old.

Did I mention too that I am an emotional wreck? That rheumatoid arthritis commercial (“I will be free, I will be strong, when the ni-i-i-iight is long”) makes me well up every time. And that depression commercial (“Where does depression hurt? Everywhere. Who does depression hurt? Everyone.”) also makes me lose it.

It is clear that I am no longer in control of my body or my emotions. Two little less-than-a-pound beings have taken over.

The above picture of us (the four of us!) showcases my extra-puffy cheeks, my 14 new chins, my receding lips and my expanding gums (wtf?), my generally expanding self (by the minute) and my last fitting skirt. Hello, darkness/body issues, my old friend. I look taller than Nicole, which I am not. I'm sure Nicole would want me to point that out. She is very happy that she is like one inch taller than me. (ok, maybe it is two inches, but who—other than Nicole—is counting?)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Movement and Milestones

When I told my sister-in-law about the good baby news, she said “Oh, good, now you can sleep, right!” Ha! That’s what she thinks. Now I need to worry about hydrocephalus and discordant growth and preterm labor and shortening cervix and…I could go on and on. But I am really trying to not worry and to enjoy what might only be my only pregnancy. I am most likely about halfway through and it hasn’t exactly been a picnic so far. But I really want to start to feel that excitement, which requires a lot of faith-building on my part, and requires me to embrace the feeling that everything is going to be okay.

I had a hard time getting to sleep last night because someone was keeping me up. I’m not going to name names (Baby A) but this someone was kicking me on and off in the lower abdominal area for about a half hour. Now these kicks are by no means powerful; in fact they are barely noticeable. And I am not even certain that it is kicking. But it is that little popping sensation again, in the same area, coming in random intervals. It could just be gas or something, but I was just so amazed that it might be kicking. That fact that I have two little lives in me is really starting to sink in. Two little girls; our daughters. And that kept me awake and full of wonder for a while. And then I worried if it was possible to kick a cervix open.

I also tried to engage Nicole in bedtime conversation, a practice she hates, as she takes her sleep very seriously, which is understandable—in her defense—since she is the one who has to get up at the crack of dawn and go to work. But I saw on another blog (I need to learn how to create live links…anyone?) that this Photo Friday theme is “What makes your body unique?” I decided that this is a good question for Nicole. At night, right before she goes to sleep. Which she takes very seriously.

Me: What do you think is my most unique body part?
Nicole: What?
Me: My most unique body part?
Nicole: I don’t know. It’s bedtime.
Me: Can’t you think of something?
Nicole: All of your body parts are unique. Everyone’s parts are unique. [with a touch of annoyance] Why?
Me: [I explain Photo Friday]
Nicole: I don’t know [she starts to laugh] . Maybe your arm hair, since it grew to an inch and half long during this pregnancy. [hysterical laughing.]

Not what I was thinking! And here I thought she would say something romantic like “Your stomach, because it holds my two children!” Or “Your beautiful _____.” Or “How could I possibly pick just one unique part of you?” But she is right: My arm hair grew and grew and I measured it at 1.5 inches long. Which is very long indeed. I finally cut it down with scissors, but not before contemplating braiding it, beading it, making dreads, etc.

Today I hit a milestone. I finally made it down to Pinkberry Yogurt (that’s not the milestone), and the Yogurt man behind the counter made some comment like “A woman in your condition shouldn’t be doing that.” (We were discussing gyms, for some small-talk reason.) This was the first time that someone I didn’t know acknowledged my pregnancy. Which means I am visibly pregnant, and not just chunky-looking. At 19 weeks and 3 days, someone sees me as pregnant; a complete stranger. In my winter coat, no less. It felt really good, and reminded me once again how lucky I am. After all that we went through, after feeling so hopeless and complete devoid of any faith, here I am, pregnant with two babies and looking like it.

Nine more sleeps till my next Level II Ultrasound.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Best News

I hate to give away the ending of a good story, but here it is: Amnio results are back and both babies are fine! This was the best news, and a nice counterpoint to the worst news ever (cysts on the brain). A nice bookend to a rather harrowing and worry-filled eleven days .

How I got the news was, of course, a little stressful. I had my regular doctor’s appointment this morning in the hospital at 9. When I got there, I called the genetic counselor and left a message, telling her that I was in the building (her office is in the hospital too) and asking if the results were in yet.

And then I met with my doctor. Both babies are moving and their little hearts are beating. They both changed their location, and are now in breech position. And, I found out, I have an anterior placenta for both, which means the placenta is like a pillow between my stomach and the babies, which further means that I won’t be feeling any kicks with any regularity any time soon. My cervix is measuring nice and long, and everything else seems to be in fine order. My blood pressure has hit a new all-time low: 74 over 60. This explains why I have felt so dizzy and tired and lethargic the past five or six days.

So then I walk (walk might be an over-statement; it was actually a very, very slow amble) over to Whole Foods and pick up a few things. I am waiting on that huge line, trying to balance an unwieldy bunch of broccoli rabe, a giant container of yogurt, another giant container of sour pickles and ricotta cheese. And then I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket, which I currently can’t access due to all of the things I am balancing in my hands. I manage to shuffle things around just and pick up the phone right before it goes to voice mail. Then, of course, it is my turn, and after waiting for 5 minutes on line, I don’t want to give up my spot (what was I thinking?) so I try to mange the phone call from the genetics counselor, take directions from the Check Out Traffic Director and pay at the same time.

While the register attendant was asking me way too complex questions like credit or debit or cash back, I was trying to speak with the GC. She asked me if I was still in the hospital, which scared the sh*t out of me. Does she want me to come to the office for bad news? Do she need to explain things in person? Is this report going to involve diagrams? I tell her in an increasingly panicky voice that I have left already and without much further ado, she just blurts it all out. The final results are in and both babies are fine. I was so happy and relieved and exhausted and grateful. No offense to the GC, but I hope that is my last phone call from her ever.

I got off the phone and apologized to the register attendant and then packed up the groceries in my bag. I managed to text Nicole the good news before I made it to the top of the escalator.

To celebrate, I am thinking about mustering up the energy to drag myself down to Chelsea to try Pinkberry Yogurt. Does anyone know anything about this place? I hear it’s all the rage on the West Coast, and I keep reading how beloved this yogurt is. Is it worth the energy? Remember, I am really tired!

Pictured above is me at 19 weeks. I discovered that if you do a google search for belly pictures of pregnant women, you might turn up some very pornographic results, so here’s hoping I don’t turn up in some dirty search. But this is what almost five months with twins looks like. My expression is animated, as I am explaining to Nicole my latest embarrassing pregnancy side effect. And those little things I am holding are the $4 onesies I bought. Yep, nothing but the finest for our girls.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

And Another Sleepless Night.....

In an insomnia fit, I watched a terrible, terrible Lifetime-esque movie last night. Well, I must admit I Tivo’d it, but only because I thought it was a documentary. It was called “Half a Dozen Babies,” and the details described it as “An infertile woman takes fertility drugs and delivers six babies.” I’m a sucker for those super-high multiple birth stories, so I thought it would be an interesting way to pass a couple of hours.

So I figure out in two seconds it’s a movie, not a documentary, but I watch it anyway. And it was beyond awful, and I have been know to enjoy awful lifetime movies. Just the details on how it happened were incorrect (doesn’t anyone fact check these movies?). She goes in for her first beta and her levels are 7,000. On Day 14? Please.

The fake “bump” the actress wore was also ridiculous. Her stomach was about 7 feet in front of her. And then they created stretch marks on said stomach, which looked like someone took a garden rake and dragged it along her sides.

Then, against all odds, she delivers 6 healthy babies (she managed to keep them in for 34 weeks I think, which in itself is ridiculous). And then the most unbelievable part: The mother and father are just fine. Not a single issue in sight. They make having six kids look like taking care of a goldfish. That Amy Grant song “Baby Baby” was actually in the soundtrack, during a montage scene where you see the parents cheerfully scrambling during diaper changes and getting bottles out of the fridge and pushing babies in swings. Sometimes I cry tears of frustration after a mere few hours with my nephew, and he is one baby and so very well behaved.

Oh, and this super family managed to do this on one salary. Not one six-figure with six-figure bonus salary; one fast-food restaurant manager’s salary. Seriously. Call me crazy, but it is hard to stretch that kind of salary to cover all the bases for a family of eight. The couple lived with the mom’s parents, but a fight between the mom of six and her mom prompted the happy couple and their six under-a-year-old kids to pile into their van and leave in the middle of the night. No diapers or cribs or clothes. Just upped and moved to another city. Just one ridiculous concept after another. And yet, at 1:00 in the morning, I was hooked.

So today, in a fit of optimism, I looked through a baby name book and ran some ideas past Nicole. It looks like we won’t be settling on any names any time soon. Here were her responses to my suggestions:

• No
• Are you kidding me?
• You’re kidding
• You have to be kidding
• Never
• I wouldn’t name a cat that
• That’s perfect [sarcastic]
• That’s great [sarcastic]
• Maybe [ followed by: “I was just tossing you a bone. I don’t really like that name.”]

Our boy was going to be Atticus. I also mentioned Noam to Nicole when we thought perhaps we could have two boys, and she agreed. She recently revealed that there was no way she was going to let me name our son Noam. I am learning so much about her during this pregnancy!

I have a feeling both girls will have long names, like royalty: A first name followed by six middle names and a last name, and maybe a descriptor such as “The Great” or “The First.” We’ll see. We are kind of settled on three middle names, but those won’t be unveiled any time soon. (surprises abound!)

Tomorrow is my appointment and—I am hoping— the day we get good amnio news. A little more than 12 hours from now. I wasted most of this afternoon just waiting for the day to end so it would be night and pajama time and then bed time and then morning and then sweet relief. Worry is absolutely exhausting. I am really getting tired of it.

The above picture is of my beautiful niece Skye, and her reaction to eating sour candy. She’s not a fan.

I'm 19 weeks today. 19 weeks.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Power of Two

Well, waiting for the final amnio results is harder than I thought. I have to admit that after Tuesday’s good FISH result news, we had a huge sense of relief. And the rest of the week passed without much torture, thankfully. But starting last night, and now this morning, the waiting torture is back. It is amplified this time by the fact that we are not entirely certain when we are going to get the results. Monday will be 10 days, and there is a good chance that the results will be ready by then. But it could take longer than that, by a few days, or even a week. We really don’t know. It all depends on how fast the baby’s little cells are multiplying, etc.

This is what I learned through talks with our genetics counselor and research: The FISH test basically counts up chromosomes. We should have 23 pairs. If there are any extra, then that is when trisomy is diagnosed (a third chromosome attached somewhere). 13, 18, and 21 are the pairs that get that extra chromosome. 21 is D.S. So what Fish tells us is this: Do we have a normal amount of pairs with no extra? And we did have a normal amount of pairs, no extras. Thank goodness.

What I also read (which I like to hold onto) is that DS is the most common abnormal chromosomal amnio diagnosis, followed by the other trisomies. All of the other chromosomal abnormalities (ty sachs, sickle cell, turner syndrome, etc.) account for a very small percentage of amnio diagnosis. Plus, a lack of ultrasound findings further limits the chance of having any other abnormality. So that means that we are not out of the woods till we get the final results, but the odds are really on our side (I’m praying). If there is faulty logic to this theory, I don’t want to know.

The good news is all this drama distracted me from my continual count of “How long till my next doctor appointment?” And my next appointment is this Monday. Only two more sleeps till my 9:00 am visit! Very exciting. I hope it is boring. A regular, run-of-the-mill, nothing-is-wrong appointment. Most of all, I look forward to the little glimpse into the world of the babies. The next appointment after that is 11 days later, when I go in for another Level II Ultrasound. I pray that those cysts are gone by then. Or at least going away. Gone is better, though.

I’m still feeling little pops. No flutters of flopping, just pops. Most of them are happening in one area. On Monday, I will find out again for certain where the babies are positioned. I am thinking about asking the doctor to draw outlines on my stomach so I can be sure. I’m hoping the pops I feel on the lower left side of my abdomen is Baby A. But why then is Baby B so quiet? Why no Baby B pops? I guess it isn’t fair to start comparing them quite yet, but I can’t help it. These babies need to start moving around on a regular basis so I can feel reassured! Is that too much to ask?

I dusted off Power of Two, by the Indigo Girls, the babies’ theme song, which I was listening to a lot in the beginning of this pregnancy. (“Two” is represented visually by the two little leafs at the top of this post, in case anyone was wondering why there were two leafs up there. I’m way into symbolism.) The lyrics seem so appropriate, at least to me. Change all the I’s to we’s and it is as if the babies are singing the song to me. I realize that mothers are supposed to comfort and console their children, but it occurs to me that the opposite can happen, too. I know, I can be really cheesy, but right now, I’d like to think that it is a message to me that every little thing is going to be alright (hmmm… a favorite Bob Marley song…maybe that is a message too?).

So were okay
Were fine
I’m here to stop your crying
Chase all the ghosts from your head
I’m stronger than the monster beneath your bed
Smarter than the tricks played on your heart
We’ll look at them together then well take them apart
Adding up the total of a love that’s true
Multiply life by the power of two

Nicole came back from her business trip ad mentioned that I made a “good dent” in the cake. I thought she would be impressed with my restraint, since I really could have finished it all, but didn’t. Go, willpower. But, really, she can’t say anything, because this morning I got up all prepared to go to the gym with her and she was having a slice of breakfast cake.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

If Eating Yellow Cake With Chocolate Frosting Morning, Noon and Night is Wrong, Then I Don’t Want to Be Right

Making a cake right before Nicole leaves for a business trip is very dangerous. Last night, we both had a reasonably-sized slice for dessert. The cake looked so nice on its glass domed pedestal, with those little slivers cut out, looking kind of like a Pac-Man, with the gooey and delicious homemade chocolate frosting oozing out of the middle. So this morning she leaves for Boston and suddenly the cake is no longer a cute Pac-man, it’s more like a half circle, and quickly waning. Cake crumbs are all over the counter. Cake dishes in the dishwasher. And I am desperately trying to restrain for eating another piece tonight. Ha.

I’m happy to report that today was drama-free for a change. The amnio results still weigh over my head, and I am a bit nervous because the doctor who did my amnio did say that results may even be ready by Friday, which is tomorrow. If not tomorrow, then Monday. But I am trying to convince myself that the worst of this particular storm is over and all will be fine. But I am still feeling anxious, and am ready for it to be over.

Today, feeling bravely optimistic, I ventured to Buy Buy Baby to buy something for the babies. Now that we know they are girls, I just wanted to buy something that was for them. Something slightly girlish to celebrate their girl-ness, since the official news is only a few days old.

But I couldn’t really find anything. Why do the girl’s clothes have to be so violently girly? Butterflies AND flowers AND bows AND cap sleeves AND treacly sayings like “Thank Heaven for little girls” all on ONE shirt. But the boy stuff: Adorable. Solid light blue onesie with navy trim and maybe one tiny and cute truck in the center. Crab bathing suits. Light blue pajamas with yellow stars. White pajamas covered with primary-color planes, trains and automobiles. Blue seersucker pants (I don’t care, my girls will wear seersucker, just like Nicole). I ended up with two little short-sleeved onesies: One is pink and white striped and one is white with pink hearts. Girl-ish without being over-the-top. Grand total: $4.99. (Who knew they were so cheap? I figured it would be like $15 for both. I have a lot to learn.) Then I went downstairs and sat in a glider for bout 20 minutes because I am still so exhausted.

I’m getting anxious to begin to babies’ room construction. I need to decorate something. I am excited to pick out paint colors and little rugs and little lamps and all that. Maybe once the room goes up, it will all feel more real to me. Because even with a growing stomach and sonogram proof, I feel like this is all just a dream. And we usually wake up from dreams.

And speaking of feeling real, I am wondering if I am beginning to maybe feel little kicks. Almost everyone describes the first kicks as flutters and butterflies and flopping goldfish (I did read that once). Me, I’m feeling a little tiny bubble-like feeling with a mini pop. It happens in the same place, which is where the bottom baby’s legs and feet are. One and sometimes two mini pops in a row. Could that be kicking? Could it be starting? I’ll be 19 weeks on Sunday, so isn’t it about time? My friend Jen with her twins, she didn’t feel anything till 20 weeks. I’m ready to start having a little physical reassurance. Once they start kicking, I’m sure I’ll be insane: You know I’ll be the one drinking a gallon of orange juice and laying on my left side just to feel reassured. Or eating a lot of cake. Which is what I am going to do right now.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Case of the Leaking Fluid

I am absolutely spent from all the fretting and worrying and researching since last Thursday. After yesterday’s results, we did feel a burden lift. We are still waiting for the amnio results, but we are very grateful that all of the chromosomes are present and accounted for, with nary and extra. The trisomies were the doctors’ biggest concern, and it looked like we cleared that hurdle. I am still nervous, but I am being optimistic.

Of course, there has to be a little drama in between the test results. I had the amnio last Friday. The doctor said that I could experience cramping, spotting and maybe a little leaking fluid. This, he said, did happen occasionally and is nothing to worry about. If anything seemed out of the ordinary I should call the doctor.

I was lucky. I had absolutely no spotting—which would freak me out, normal or not—and no cramping and nothing unusual. So I went about my business (fretting, worrying, researching) side-effect free.

And then noticed the thin, watery, clear discharge. Apparently, when pregnant, the lower half of your body turns into a veritable faucet of fluids, so I didn’t think much of this. But I had never seen anything watery so far. It occurred to me that this might be unusual. More research and I determined that this is the classic sign of leaking fluids. I don’t now what I was expecting; no one really talks about what amniotic fluid looks like or feels like or smells like. This made me a little panic-y, but I remained surprisingly calm.

By Monday, it was happening too often to ignore. I consulted my friend Jen who is Knower Of All Things Pregnancy (she could open her own fertility office and practice illegally if she wanted. She’d probably get away with it for years before anyone caught on.) and she said when she had a leak, it felt like gushing, like wetting your pants. For me, it wasn’t that obvious. No gushing or wetting of the pants. But it was consistent and it was unusual. I needed to call the doctor.

I called my doctor and left a message with her receptionist today (yes, it took me another two days to really admit that this might be a problem; I still hoped it would go away). The receptionist calls back in three minutes and says my doctor said for me to go to Labor and Delivery to get checked out.

NOT what I was expecting. I was hoping for a “there, there, it’s nothing” or “just lay down and take it easy for a few days.” Not “drop everything and come in now.” So I IM Nicole that I am going into Labor and Delivery, which she interprets as “I am going in labor. And delivering.” She calls me all panicky, but at least I could calm her down. Later at dinner she said if there was an open window in her office she would have jumped out. She is stretched pretty thin too from all this drama—but she has to go off to work every day while I have the luxury of napping, relaxing and generally not worrying about any other responsibilities. I keep trying to pretend that work might be a nice distraction for her, but let’s be honest: It has to absolutely suck. If I were still working, I would have quit by now, probably in a dramatic way.

At the hospital, a doctor examined me (urine sample, sonogram, internal exam with a speculum that had to be inserted without lubricant, swab test) and determined that everything was just fine. Turns out my discharge just took a very watery turn. I was so relieved, because as I was laying there I did of course think this is it. It’s over.

On a happy note, the doctor did a sonogram on one of those rolling portable machines. I didn’t get to see the babies (the girls!) but she said they were both moving around and looked just fine. The baby on top (I think Baby B?) moved in a new position. The doctor said she was in a fetal position, which I thought was so cute. The fetus in the fetal position. Does it get better than that?

Since I wasn’t leaking any fluid or in any immediate danger, that meant I had to pick up dry cleaning, do the laundry and iron Nicole’s shirts after all. No more excuses. I also made a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. And took a nap because all this drama is exhausting me.

If I can turn these stories into 2,000 words, can you imagine how long my delivery story is going to be? (Please let me have a happy-ending delivery story.)

Cake time.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

One Awful Chapter Closed

Thank God, it was good news. Both babies are clear of any of the trisomies. This time I cried tears of relief. I am SO happy this initial wait is over and that the news was good for both babies.

Of course, I called my counselor first thing this morning. She said that she hadn’t heard from the lab, so she would call them and get back to me. Thus began a very long 12 minute wait. My stomach roller-coaster dropped when they called me back. But I was so happy to get the good news.

Nicole was in a meeting, as usual, so I texted her the news, and she called me back in a few minutes. Then I called my friend Jen, and we both cried on the phone for a few minutes.

We still have to wait for the amnio results. But I was most afraid of the trisomies, which have a link with the cysts and are often one of those things called “incompatible with life” or some other euphemism for Your Baby Will Die. I feel like we just cleared another huge hurdle. And now we await the amnio results, which we should get by the beginning of next week.

And, it has been officially confirmed: They are BOTH girls. Wow. The most common set of fraternal twins are boy-girl. The second most common are boy-boy. The least common are girl-girl. One again, I defy the odds. But, cliché as it is, all I want now, really want, are two healthy miracle babies.

Thank you all so much for your thoughts, prayers and good vibes. I’m in the camp that believes that all that really makes a difference. Not to mention the comfort it provides to both Nicole and me. It's always good to know you are not alone.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Numbers Game


Those are the chromosomes tested in my FISH test. Tomorrow we will know if either or both of our babies have any of these trisomies. And we will know for certain if they are both girls. A clean report tomorrow bodes incredibly well for the amnio, because the doctor is most concerned about the 18th and 21st chromosome, apparently (relation to the cysts).

The FISH test takes a mere 36 hours, which means my results were ready-to-read at about 8 p.m. on Saturday. I am assuming they are sitting in my genetic counselor’s inbox, computer or otherwise. I am calling her at 8:45 a.m. I am hopeful I will get the results right away. I don’t know what I will do if I have to wait. The wait so far has been torture.

I took a benadryl so hopefully I can sleep tonight. Less than 12 hours to go.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Because I Need to Calm Down...

....and remember that I have lots to be grateful already. First, there's Nicole (saving a beached skate fish this past summer on Fire Island), my rock and center, who I can't stand spending even a night away from (and yet she's off to Boston for work for a night on Thursday). Then there is my nephew Leif, who by his mere birth created a ripple effect of change in my life. Almost nothing is beter than hearing him say "I love you so much, Jen-Jen". And then there is my niece Skye, who at four months survived a near-death experience and a two-week stint in the NICU and who is today a perfectly healthly little girl who brings such joy to me. And there is Nicole's homemade boneless Buffalo chicken (which she created because I hate to eat chicken off of a bone but I love Buffalo sauce; a paradox) with bleu cheese/sour cream/buttermilk sauce (ok, so it isn't exactly lo-cal) and corn-tomato-avocado salad. My ultimate comfort food, which she lovingly adapted to accommodate my pregnancy (no bleu cheese) and even made for me Friday night after my amnio, with extra sauce, to boot. And then my amazing friends and complete Internet strangers, who offer unconditional support and sympathy and positive thoughts. Finally, these two babies. Because after all that we have been through to get pregnant, it is not lost on me that pregnancy is a mirace itself and that healthy babies are miracles too. I have to remember all this good because it is so easy to get sucked into the riptide of the bad.

Two more night's sleep till Tuesday's results. I wish I could just hibernate until then.

Waiting, Impatiently

It is beyond frustrating that my FISH results are sitting in some lab, locked away until business returns as usual on Tuesday. The wait is torture, pure torture. I fluctuate between “Everything HAS to be okay” to “This is all doomed.”

The contractor came yesterday to talk about building the babies' room. I had to leave. I couldn't stay and talk so hopefully about where the door would be and where we need electrical outlets. The light brown and mint-ish green walls that I want and Nicole doesn't. The two healthy babies in their little onesies asleep in their new cribs. It is hard enough for me to visaulize all that, and now, it is just too scary.

And I thought I was afraid before. Life once again shows who's boss.

Maybe there is something chromosomally abnormal with me. After all, I had those two m/c’s and the chemicals, and we never were able to determine the cause of those. Maybe I just make some bad eggs. Maybe that ambient I took before my harrowing plane ride caused cysts. Maybe all my worrying did. Who knows? The doctors don’t even know. Which means we can’t rule anything out either.

I am reassured immensely by the fact that no other markers popped up. Yet I still can’t shake the fear that another marker might crop up in week 19. Or week 20, which is typically when the anatomy scan is done.

I am exactly 18 weeks today, and I am to afraid to take my weekly picture. My stomach looks very pregnant. I feel very pregnant. But I am so scared it is all going to be taken away from me.

Two more days till we get the FISH results…and another eight or so till we know the amnio results. Great. I'm sure time is going to just fly.

Friday, January 12, 2007

I Have Green Pee

First of all, I need to thank every single one of you for your thoughts and prayers and research and offers and support. It means so much to me and goes a very long way to making me feel not alone and much better. Your honesty, openness, humor and pure bright light is overwhelming. Thanks you for everything. Plus, I now have a few new blogs to check out while on this post-amnio bedrest.

Not surprisingly, I have more to say. A lot. I’ve never been one to be at a loss for words, and I’m not one for brevity. One of these day’s I’ll master the short-and-sweet update.

We did the amnio early this morning. Before we left, I wrote out five questions that I needed answered. I gave Nicole the list and the responsibility to make sure said questions were answered. She is the calm, patient one and can be a little intimidating when she is all dressed up in her suits and cufflinks. People listen to her and respond in kind. Me, on the other hand, laying on a table with my boobs hanging out and puffy eyes and my stomach sticking up with fear written all over my face, I am not so intimidating. Plus I tend to talk too fast and suddenly lose my grasp on the English language in situations such as this. It’s better to let someone else do the talking.

Anyway, I am sad to report that we had the same Attila the Hun u/s tech today. What are the chances?? I almost walked out. When I got on the table (why can’t we just call it a bed? ‘Table’ makes me feel like a slab of meat), she told me to pull my pants down and I questioned how: All the way down or halfway down or all the way off or what. She snippily replied “Like you did yesterday” and I said “I was NAKED from the waist down yesterday, so tell me what you want.” See, I am not the calm one. And my cup of kindness was running out. I wasn’t even going to try faking it.

Pants settled, the doctor came in. And he was a hundred times better than yesterday’s Dr. Doom and Gloom. Dr. D&G was a bit gruff, matter-of-fact and not terribly good at spreading around optimism. He also seemed to have one foot out the door, so I didn’t get all of my questions answered (hence today’s list). Today’s doctor was much more optimistic. He assured us that everything was probably just fine. He showed us the babies’ hands open and not clenched (clenched is a huge marker for Trisomy). He reported that the heart and everything else looked just fine. I like this fine word a lot.

He waked me through the procedure with full narration. It did hurt, but more in theory than actuality. The idea of it hurts, a lot. I could feel the needle going down down down. I might have cut off circulation in Nicole’s hands at insertion but the pain was over in a few seconds. I didn’t want to look, but Dr. Optimism encouraged me to look at the screen. And there was a little baby, moving around. After the first amnio, they injected blue dye into [her] placenta to make sure that they didn’t take fluid from the same placenta. That’s why I have the green pee. [yellow amniotic fluid + blue dye = green pee]

We left a message with my doctor (her office is in the hospital) and she popped by just after the amnio was over. That made me feel so good, that she would interrupt her day to check in on a hysterical patient. She was also reassuring and said that they see these cysts all the time and it doesn’t always have a bad outcome.

Time will tell. Unfortunately, since Monday is a holiday, we won’t find out till Tuesday. I wish I could pay someone to go I and read the results. Seriously. If you hear about a break-in at a New York City lab, you’ll know who it was.

Four more sleeps till FISH results. And I use the word “sleep” very lightly.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

And Now, the Very Long Version

Why can’t something be related to this pregnancy be easy? So it’s like we are back at square one, waiting to see if everything will be ok. Back to the starting line.

I need to write this out to get it out of my head. Skip this entire post if you are easily bored by bitter rantings and too much detail. I'm in no mood to edit.

To start with, our u/s technician had the personality of a troll. A bitter, mean, pissed off troll. She was very cold and impersonal. And her wanding technique sucked so much that it actually hurt for the first time during the trans-vaginal portion of the exam.

Despite the fact that almost every doctor and technician narrate every second of their exams, this one said nothing. I had to ask questions about the fuzzy images we saw: “Is that the head?” “Is the heart beating?” Which baby is that?” She grunted one-word answers and seemed vaguely bored and most definitely disinterested. At one point, Nicole asked her a question. The tech looked right at her, but didn’t answer.

Halfway through, the tech asked me how old I was and I answered. I asked her why…did that have to do with anything? And she said no, even had the gall to act like she was “just asking a question, that’s all.” (The doctor asked the same thing later when he came in…turns out they were asking for a reason.)

I ask continually if everything looks ok and she says continually that it all looks fine. Now I know she can’t really say anything, but I was quite clear with her about how nervous I was and how anxious I was. I don’t expect her to tell me about anything bad, but I am just pointing out that she is a cold-hearted liar. At least she could have said “The doctor needs to look at this” or “I just measure…the doctor explains what the pictures mean.” I know I am being picky here, but whatever.

We asked if we can find out the sexes and she seemed bothered by this. She said it was too early. Nicole asked when you can typically determine sex, and the tech said at 16 weeks. But I am 17 weeks? What the?

So she pokes around, trying to determine the sexes anyway and says “It looks like Baby A is a ….” And then stops. Nicole and I waiting anxiously to hear her answer. She doesn’t answer for about 5 minutes (seriously….five minutes). She stops and starts this sentence stem several times. And leaves us hanging. Finally she pulls that scanner thing off of me and says “looks like it is two girls.” Like it is an after-thought. Such a cold, distant, icy delivery. No “Baby A is and Baby B is,” to build suspense. No warmth. No smile. I turned to Nicole and made some comment like “Two girls…wow.” And the tech suddenly becomes Miss Chatty and says something like “Was that not what you were expecting?” in a kinda rude way. By now I am not easily holding my tongue and I respond something like “We were expecting two girls, or two boys or one of each.”

The tech goes to get the doctor on duty (standard procedure) and leaves Nicole and I alone for a few. I turn to Nicole and whisper that she is mean. I take mean people as a personal affront; they just wash of Nicole’s back. Then we talk gender. I’ll admit, I am a little disappointed there isn’t at least one boy. Someone to carry on Nicole’s last name (no boy babies on her side). Plus we both have a definite boys name picked out that we both love to pieces. And someone needs to watch football with Nicole and play golf with her because it isn’t going to be me (yes, I know girls can do this, too, but what a perfect if stereotypical and bonding mother/son activity).

Then the doctor comes in. He clicks through the pictures at a lightening rate. Like one picture per second. He gets to the picture of one head and stops. He starts saying “see this here” and my stomach just drops. His tone, the way he looked at us, I knew something was wrong. He goes on to describe choroid plexus cysts, and my head is spinning. Am also having a hard time with his (I think) Russian accent. I stop him and ask “which baby?” and he responds “both.”

Search the internet and there is tons of info about these cysts and how they can mean absolutely nothing. But search the internet for instances of BOTH twins having this and you’ll find zip. Nada. Barely a mention. What this means, I don’t know. But I do know that BOTH babies having cysts is bad news. And I did have those two miscarriages already. I may be going out on a limb here but how weird is it that both babies have this random marker? One is hard enough to deal with. But both?? Sounds like I make some bad eggs.

These cysts are, unfortunately, a soft marker for some serious stuff. And my advanced maternal age (all of 34) is another soft marker. We are up to two markers. The wild card here is were there any other markers? The doctor said the heart and organs looked fine. But we didn’t think to ask about the clenched fist. (One of our 15 take-home u/s pictures shows Baby B’s clenched fist. Clenched fists are a very bad sign.) The doctor didn’t talk to us about clenched fists. He just said I should speak with the genetic counselors and sent us over there.

But it’s both babies.

We received the red carpet treatment in the genetic suite. They spoke with us right away. The counselor was so nice, but I hated that I was some textbook anecdote: “If the patient is despondent and hysterical, gently push a box of tissues across your text and repeat how sorry you are to even have to talk about this with her…” and other trite textbook case scenarios that she undoubtedly acted out in the grad classes. I hate crying in front of ANYONE, even Nicole. I asked for a pen and paper and she gives me a pad of paper. One sheet would suffice, I’d like to think. We went over the options. The counselor made it clear that everything could be just fine. But everything could also be all wrong. I guess thsi day wouldn't be complete without discussions of fetocide. But these tests I’ve done are screenings and these finding are only markers. Only amnio tells for sure. Suddenly my 1 in 9,200 screening stat evaporates and we are on the amnio path.

So we are doing amnio with FISH. I know FSH, but not this F.I.SH, and I am too weary to google more. FISH results typically take 36 hours, but since ours will be done on a Friday, we will have to wait till Monday or Tuesday to get the answers. The FISH checks for Trisomy 13 and 21, Downs Syndrome and X and Y. So we will be able to find out for certain the sexes and see if Tech Doom was right about two girls. And we will know for certain if either or both babies have Trisomy or DS. I’m not sure why then we wait for the amnio results 10 to 14 days later, but that’s what we do. I think amnio shows other defects and abnormalities. I’ll have to pay attention better tomorrow.

And here I thought we would celebrate today’s stunning sonogram with icebox cake and dinner, and I would be happily scanning in 4D pictures to share.

So hear I am. It’s almost 11:00 on Thursday night and I haven’t eaten since noon. I am pissed off that we can’t have a normal or easy pregnancy, free of crap like this. I am pissed that Nicole has to rearrange her work schedule yet again to accommodate this stupid stuff. I am scared to have amnio. I am terrified that one or both babies are going to have a serious chromosomal abnormality. I’m scared that amnio is going to kill them. (My first act as a mother? Putting my children in danger’s way to risk amnio. Give me mother-of-the-year-award) I am pissed off that I have to miss the first day of classes for my last semester (over achiever that I am) and that I had to email my professors and explain that I won’t be in class. I am pissed off that I am on bed rest for a day. I am annoyed that we had to cancel a visit from our first-grader nephew because, let’s face it, I am too much of a mess/selfish this weekend to even think about seeing other people and I am not one to ever be distracted in times like these by anyone or anything. I am pissed that if this pregnancy doesn’t make it, then I am fat and have miles and miles to go to get back into shape, without the benefit and solace of having a baby that made me that way. I am annoyed that I am too impatient to wait even three or four days for results. I am pissed that my usually-absent mother actually called for a change, but said after I summed up the day’s finding with “so today wasn’t such a good day,” she responds with “Maybe tomorrow will be a great day.” I doubt that! I'm pissed that this awful news might make other women who are pregnant and scared much more scared. I am annoyed that “amnio” and “Trisomy” aren’t even in my computer’s dictionary. I am annoyed that these cysts appear in 1 to 2 percent of all pregnancies and ONCE AGAIN I hit these odds. I’ve never seem to have met a long shot that I couldn’t ace. And I am mad at the world because I had to see my stronger-than-anyone-I-know girlfriend cry and feel her tears on my arm and not be capable of making HER feel better for once in my freaking life.

Amnio is 8:30 tomorrow morning. The best part was when the counselor said to us that after the amnio, no sex for 24 hours. Because nothing puts me in the mood like amnios and cyst-on-the-brain and potential chromosomal problems. Is she kidding me with that?? Do people really hop into bed and get it on? Did I really need the “nothing in the vagina” speech? At least it made me laugh.

Thank you all so, so much for you encouraging words and personal anecdotes and support. As you all know—most likely from being in some sort of similar horrific situation—it means so much. Like invisible strings helping to keep me up. If you read to the end of this post, you deserve some sort of medal.

I can't take it

Thanks for all the well wishes. We’re going to need some more. I need to decompress, but the very short version is both babies have cysts on their brains. Called choroids plexus cysts. Lots in Baby A, not so much in Baby B. Anyway, these cysts are soft markers for Trisomy 18 and 21 and Downs and all sorts of other chromosomal abnormalities.

I spent most of the time with the genetic counselor trying not to cry, and now I am so fucking angry. We go in for amnio tomorrow morning. We are getting FISH done as well, which apparently will give us a little peace of mind or major panic in about four days. Then amnio results in at most two weeks. I guess I have lots of googling to do.

Bizarre since our stupid nuchal fold was so great and our blood test gave such great results. And I thought this was going to be a better year. Now I am just so scared. And mad. And fucking crying again.

And they are girls.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

One Last Sleep

By this time tomorrow, we will know. Are they still in there? Do they have all of their fingers and toes? Do their hearts have all their chambers? Are they boys? Or girls? Or one of both? The past 17 weeks have lead up to tomorrow’s important sonogram. Right now, I feel like I am going to throw up.

Nicole took the day off from work, so at least I have constant companionship until our 2:00 pm appointment.

And even though it is only 10:00 p.m and I am far from sleepy, I will attempt to go to sleep now because I just want to get this long night over with.

That, and I’ll drive myself insane if I google yet another permutation of “When will I feel the babies kick?” and “Abnormalities to look for at an anatomy scan.”

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Good Babies/Bad Mommy

The genetics people finally called with my test results and things look good. I did the integrated screening, which includes first trimester blood work, then the nuchal fold scan at 11 weeks, and then second trimester blood work. Before the screening, they based my risk on age alone (I was two months into 34 when the eggs were retrieved from me). So my risk for Downs Syndrome was 1 in 330. After factoring in the blood results and nuchal results, my results are now 1 in 9,200. Wow. That seems pretty great. Yet I can’t shake from my head the fact that the chances of having a heteroetopic pregnancy like I had (one in tube and one in uterus) are 1 in 7,000 or 1 in 30,000, depending in which journal you believe, and I had one of those. So the increased odds are reassuring, but not so much so that I have no worries. Besides, I am me, after al, and worry-free isn’t in my vocabulary.

The second thing they screened for was neural tube defects. Before the screening, my chances were 1 in 1,000. Now my chances are 1 in 1,700. Now this seems great too, but I can’t help but to wonder if the fact that it didn’t jump as much as the other part mean something bad. Even still, 1 in 1,700 or even 1 in 1,000 are still god odds. After all, think of all those failed cycles I had, when my chances were much greater than 1 in 1,000.

So the question remains, to amnio or not to amnio. With these odds, it is clear that I have a higher chance of having a m/c than I do having a baby with one of these chromosomal abnormalities. Yet it goes against my nature (and luck) to assume to All Is Just Fine. This is why the ultrasound on Thursday is so important. I am hoping things look good then too. But I am still a nervous wreck.

When I get like this, I am a firm believer in doing whatever it takes to make me feel better or give me a little solace, whether that means shutting myself in my home or going to see a movie or eating half a pint of caramel cone ice cream or buying a new book. Of course, all these things provide only temporary reliefs at best, but it makes me feel like I am doing something to make myself feel better, even if that means doing nothing at all (get it?). So to distract myself from this Thursday’s adventures, I took myself to a movie (Notes on a Scandal….very good). The Bad Mommy part comes in when I ate an entire popcorn covered in that awful chemical butter (this is the type of theater where you put the butter on yourself….BAD idea for me). I ate the entire thing without stopping, even as little bits slipped done my shirt, getting lodged in my newly huge chest.

Did I stop at that? Nope. Afterwards, I stopped at Starbuck’s for a cinnamon latte (there are only so many times that I can pass by the 700 Starbucks in the square mile of my neighborhood and see that sign advertising this new steamy delicious-looking concoction and not buy one.) And then there was the toffee almond bar. More crap in my stomach, more bad Mommy guilt. While waiting for my cinnamon creation, my hair stylist happened to come in. She hasn’t seem me in about 6 weeks (oh, the gray) and she and she made a few “Look at you!” and “You really popped” comments, which made me feel pregnant. Then she (and this is a first, outside of Nicole, of course) rubbed my stomach. For like 30 seconds. At first thought, this is a little creepy. I wouldn’t normally let people touch my stomach. But then I reminded myself that there are babies in there. And then it sorta made me feel good. I really am pregnant. I really didn’t think it would ever happen (well, I did when we first started trying, but most of you know what I mean). I just still can’t believe I am in my 17th week. It reminded me how lucky am I.

And then, before she left, she told me that if I wore some tighter fitting clothes (I was wearing an oversized button down) then people might be able to really see that I am pregnant and not think that I just look big. Well, then.

Tomorrow night I have dinner plans with one my favorite people on earth. That will be a great distraction.

And two more toss-and-turn nights till the ultrasound…..

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Countdown Continues....

Someone needs to take my computer away.

My computer lives on the coffee table in the living room, but has a permanent spot on my lap when I am on the couch. I can’t just sit down like a normal person and watch TV and r-e-l-a-x (I never could; I must be multi-tasking). So as I glance at a rerun of Law & Order, I google and read and research and list and compare. When should you first feel babies’ movement? What are signs of second trimester m/c? Can second trimester m/c happen without warning? What should I expect to see at the Level II ultrasound? (please don’t let us see little clenched hands.) I even still read Beta boards.

Obviously, too much information can be a bad thing. Hunt for something awful and you are certain to find it. Why can’t I just relax? Why can’t I just look at my growing stomach when I need to be reassured that things are going well? I was reading a blog recently about another woman who was pregnant after years of trying and m/c’s and she was saying how she didn’t really believe it was happening. I read a little more and realized she was 39 weeks. 39 weeks. Is that going to be me?

I’d say that the nesting instinct is really setting in, but to be honest, I am always nesting, so wanting to get everything in order really isn’t anything new. Yet I really have this urge to have everything in place, and we are very far from that. The contractor is coming over on Thursday to meet with us (before the ultrasound) and discuss the plans for the babies’ room. I am excited for this room to be done, because then I feel like we can get the cribs and start buying things. I can start thinking about what colors to paint the walls (I want light brown and apple green; Nicole wants not-light brown and not-apple green). I can pick out a dresser and start acquiring mini things to put into said dresser. Put things on shelves. I can go through that giant bag of clothes that sits in the back of Nicole’s closest, filled with optimistic gifts and hand-me-downs given to us during my other pregnancies. Of course, this is all contingent on everything going well at this ultrasound. Nothing is going to happen if things don’t look promising. The last thing we need to do is dis-assemble a room if things don’t turn out well.

This just isn’t going to be an easy 40 weeks (that is, if I am lucky to go 40 weeks). I guess I just need to accept that.

In happy news, my sleep seems to be regulating. I can make it through the night with just two trips to the bathroom! I still have to flip from side to side, dragging the giant body pillow with me, but I am happy to be sleeping more. My eating seems to have settled back into the range of normal. I have a full box of graham crackers and a bag of salt and vinegar chips in the cabinet and I have no interest in them! And I’m not as dizzy as often, which is thanks to my blood pressure getting back closer to normal for me. So all in all, I can’t really complain too much.

Three more restless sleeps till the Level II….

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Conversation Between Leif and His Cousins

Leif: My brilliant, handsome, adorable, loving, perfect four-year old nephew. (Shown in top picture.)
Jen-Jen: That’s what he calls me. (Something to do with no “aunt” equivalent in Japanese.)
The Babies: My uterine guests. (Their heads are shown in bottom picture.)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Leif: Are the babies still inside?
Jen-Jen: Yes, they are still in there. [Please be true.]
Leif: Why won’t they come out?
Jen-Jen: Because they are too little and need to grow still.
Leif: Yeah? Why?
Jen-Jen: Because…ummm…all babies need to grow before they come out of their mommy’s tummy.
Leif: Why?
Jen-Jen: Ummm…because that’s what babies do in mommy’s tummy. [Changing subjects, because I am never good at answering “why” questions] Do you want to listen to the babies and see if they are talking? [Why oh why did I say this??? What is wrong with me? I tried to teach him once that bones are inside us and he STILL goes around hitting his little chest and proudly proclaiming "Bones inside." Now he will put his head on other people’s stomachs to listen for babies talking and people will think he’s strange.]
Leif: Yeah?
Jen-Jen: Yes. Put your ear here on my tummy. [Leif obliges; I’m already regretting this.]
Leif: All I hear is drip drip.
Jen-Jen: OK, maybe the babies are sleeping.
Leif: I want to give the babies a hug. [Leif wraps his arms around my stomach]
Jen-Jen: Me, too.

And wouldn’t that be a perfect place to end this conversation? Yet it continues.

Leif: I want to share my toys with the babies.
Jen-Jen: You are such a good boy! It's nice to share.
Leif: I have babies in my tummy too!
Jen-Jen: You do?
Leif: Yeah. I have [counts on his fingers] four babies. [rubs his tummy]
Jen-Jen: Boys can’t have babies in their tummys.
Leif: Yeah? Why?
Jen-Jen: [Changing subjects again] Who wants a lolly pop?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Relief …Sweet (Temporary) Relief

Babies are fine, as far as the eye can see. I wanted to see them both moving—last time one was very, very still and that really scared me. So before this appointment I drank one of those sugary coffee drinks for insurance (the only time I have caffeine these days). My thought process: If the sugar didn’t wake them up, the caffeine would. Mission accomplished. They were both squirming around, thank goodness. To celebrate, I almost bought a five-pound bag of gummi bears during my post-doctor trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond, but I came to my senses.

The doctor measured them and pronounced them on target. My cervix is just under 4 centimeters, which is also still good. We did the final blood work for the integrated screen and we should have those results in about a week. All in all, a whirlwind, and my next appointment is in three weeks (technically, 19 days).

However, only eight days till the Level II ultrasound.

[Past] Tense

Insomnia is not as romantic as I would like to think it is. I’ve been up since 3:00 a.m., which is par for the course for me. I seem to wake up every hour and a half or so to pee. This has been going on since Day One of this pregnancy. By 2:00 or 3:00 or 4:00, I can’t get back to sleep. I usually watch shows on my iPod. So far, I have been through five whole seasons of 24 (that’s 120 shows); one season of Top Chef; every episode ever created of The Office and a bunch of miscellaneous random shows of which I didn’t commit to an entire season. I’m officially out of shows, and need to develop an interest in some new ones fast.

And now, I am just tense. A little less than two hours till my next appointment. It’s been 23 days since my last one. I am bracing myself for bad news. I am also bracing myself to have to beg for a sonogram. I am seeing my doctor’s partner for the first time and I have no idea what his protocol is. I know there will be blood work (last part of nuchal) and a blood pressure check and a cervix measurement and the all-humiliating weigh-in, but I don’t know what else. All I know is I am not leaving till I see both babies, hearts beating, hopefully squirming around.

Any sliver of hope I have comes courtesy of the fact that 2006 was last year, and this is the New & Improved 2007. All bad outcomes should have happened and been wrapped up by December 31st of ’06.

One hour and forty-five minutes to go….

Monday, January 01, 2007

2007, New and Improved (hopefully)

I am so happy to see the end of 2006, I really am. We didn’t even bother to say up to usher it out. We were asleep by 10:15 p.m. No fireworks, No ball dropping. I just let it slip away with barely a nod of acknowledgment.

To say this was a difficult year would be an understatement. At times I really didn’t think I would get through it without massive setbacks and significant collateral damage. Obviously, Nicole was my life preserver (and punching bag and shoulder to cry on and support and everything else). And there were a couple of truly special people who kept me afloat too. It took me a year to get to a point where I could say that even without children, my family with Nicole was complete. We were enough; she was enough; and plans were just that: Just one esoteric way my future could work out, with no real guarantees. And then I got pregnant. It’s like I had to learn that lesson first before the universe would acquiesce to my request.

So now it is 2007, and if we are lucky then we will have an amazing spring gift of two babies. When I am not terrified out of my mind, I feel like the luckiest person in the world. I’m four months now (and a day) and beginning to show it a little. I think I still just look bigger, not pregnant. Although Nicole sometimes laugh when she sees my stomach and proclaims me “so pregnant.” I actually bought maternity jeans yesterday (a big step for me) and am reveling in the joys that are elastic waistbands. I have started wearing Nicole’s oversized buttons-downs, which is what we used to say I would wear when I was pregnant and getting big. And now here we are.

In the meantime, I don’t really have any resolutions for this new-has-to-be-better new year. I don’t exactly believe in them. (Why wait till January 1st to make changes?) However, I do have some things to figure out. I am a semester away from finishing my second Masters in a field that I am not sure I will stay in for the long run. How did that happen?! If all goes well, I should graduate a week or two before these babies come. Plans for a doctorate must be put on hold if we are lucky enough to have these babies in the spring. Plans to return to work are on the back burner too now that there are two babies on the way. In light of all that, I need to learn to find some self-worth in being the non-financially contributing partner of this family (and living in the shadow of my superstar successful girlfriend). Making dinner and ironing might be integral to the success of a household and family, but it just seems so…empty sometimes.

I hope this is a better year for everyone who had as awful a 2006 as I did. But I realize that there is potential, of course, for this to be the worst year yet. But I can’t even think about that right now. I am trying to be positive and to be grateful for all that I do have. I have Nicole; I have a home; I have some amazing friends and little people in my life; I have security; and maybe just a little bit of hope. And all I am asking for is two healthy babies this spring. What more could a person want really? It took this past awful year for me to realize that.

Two more sleeps till my next sonogram…..