Sunday, January 7, 2007

"Are you joking?"

The title of this 1st post is usually the reaction I get from strangers when they learn I'm pregnant with our 2nd set of twins.

I never realized how interesting this fact is to other people. After I say "no, I'm not joking...I wouldn't joke about something like this", they usually respond by saying "do twins run in your family" to which I reply "yes, twins run in my family...sometimes they even walk too" (a funny little reply I learned from a friend of mine who also has twins).

Then the wierdest comment comes last...this is where the complete stranger says "well, God doesn't give you more than you can handle" as if they pity me or maybe they think they sense some sort of "holy crap" look in my eyes that I can't see for myself when I look in the mirror.

I do have to admit when Tim and I learned we were pregnant with our 2nd set of twins, I probably did have that "holy crap" look in my eyes.  After my OB told me "you're having another set of twins", I immediately walked out of her office and called my good friend Bonnie (no, I didn't call Tim right away out of sheer fear of how he'd react) and screamed into the phone "Oh My God....what am I gonna do? How on earth am I gonna tell Tim?" and she laughed and assured me everything would be okay (this made me feel great because Bonnie has an instinct about these things).

I came home and Tim didn't really say much to me.  He began to head up the stairs to take a shower and I asked "well, don't you wanna know how my appointment went?" and he just looked at me as if he already knew what I was gonna say.

I said "it's twins again" and then he did something that really surprised me...HE LAUGHED!! And not just a little hearty laugh as if he had heard a really great joke, but the kind of laugh that is almost hyena-like as if he had just heard the joke of the century and would be laughing for the rest of his life.

Then he went upstairs and showered....that's probably when he broke down into tears but I'll never know.

So let's start off with a little history leading up to how Tim and I got to this point in our lives.  We met almost 12 years ago on a blind date at Chili's.  I remember thinking "he's cute but not really my type". Later I would learn that he was thinking "she's cute but her thighs are a little too big for my liking".

After the date, we agreed that it went well and he'd call me. Here I was thinking "you can call me but I'm probably not gonna go out with you again"....until my dearest and oldest friend Jen convinced me to go out with him again. I love to remind Tim that he actually has Jen to thank for us being together because if it wasn't for her, I'd have never even returned his call (at this point in our time together, I'm not sure if Tim's thanking Jen or cursing the day she ever told me to go on another date with him).

Jen's point was "you've dated a lot of jerks who were your type....this guy is not your usual type so maybe this is a good thing" (not to mention that I had also been married previously to a world-class jerk who I have to thank for my "I hate all men" phase, in which I wouldn't have recognized a "nice guy" if my life depended on it).

7 years later, Tim and I were married. Yes, 7 long years of dating....7 years of ups and downs, 7 years of "this isn't working for me, maybe we should take some space" which only ended up with us back together in the end, which always proved to me we were meant to be, and, let's not forget to mention, 7 long years of my child-bearing days rotting away.

We were married on a beautiful sunny day in August 2002 and almost immediately we began talking about when we should start a family. Call it women's instinct (Tim calls it "self-fulfilling prophecy") but I had a feeling trying to conceive would not be an easy task for us because let's face it, nothing in our relationship had been easy. I wanted to try immediately, Tim wanted to wait 6 months...we compromised and started trying 4 months later.

It was fun at first, I must admit....that first thought of a fertilized egg implanting and turning into a baby that we'd be holding in our arms 9 months later. That's how it happened for everyone else, right?

But that's not how it happened for us....and I ended up in my OB's office asking her to run some tests because I was already 33 years old and dreading something horrible was going on in my body, which was preventing me from becoming pregnant.

As it turns out, my women's instict was right and I was diagnosed with high FSH (a condition where a women's body has to work extra hard to produce eggs...also known as diminished ovarian reserve). I remember my OB telling me this and saying "you'll need IVF to conceive and you might wanna run, not walk, to a clinic who can provide this service for you".

Most of the RE's I spoke with wouldn't touch me with a 10-foot pole when they learned of my high FSH but thankfully I met a couple wonderful ladies online who lead me to our beloved Dr Geoffrey Sher of the Sher Insititute for Reproductive Medicine, who was more than willing to work with me and even dared to give me some hope that I could conceive via IVF.

Here's a picture of Tim and I on our wedding day....don't we look so happy and hopeful??

One miscarriage and three IVF's later, our beautiful twins, Cole and Isabella, were conceived and born in October 2004.

I'm leaving a lot of details out of this part of the journey....most of it depressing, heartbreaking and disappointing. The whole process was emotionally, physically and financially draining.

I love to hear those couples who say "experiencing infertility brought my husband and I closer" because I often wonder if they just said that to make it sound like everything was always hunky-dory. Tim and I experienced many peaks and valleys during the process...mostly valleys....and I don't ever remember thinking this experience brought as closer as a couple.

I do remember feeling horribly guilty for being the reason we couldn't conceive.  After I would give our credit card number out to the billing lady at SIRM over the phone, I'd hang up and start laughing so hard I'd end up in tears. When I would tell Tim "well, I just charged another $25,000", I could see his dream of ever owning a luxury car disappearing right before his very eyes.

That's not to say Tim ever made me feel guilty or bad....oh, no, I did that to myself....but he spent a lot of time on business trips and I spent a lot of time arranging RE appointments, calling various pharmacies to see who offered the better prices on all the medications I'd need and trying to stay sane and hopeful. I lived and breathed IVF during those was like a full-time job to me (and the sad thing was I actually had a full-time job at the time which obviously suffered a great deal as I was too consumed with trying to conceive).

Okay, so that's a little bit of the details....but it all ends on a good note....we were blessed with Cole and Bella, our little miracles in every sense of the word. They were born at 32 weeks (8 weeks early) after a very difficult pregnancy but they were healthy, with 10 fingers and 10 toes each, and so beautiful that neither Tim or I could believe they were actually our children.

There were many, many times I would be rocking one of them to sleep in the NICU and think "I can't believe I'm a mother...I can't believe these babies are mine....oh man, I feel so sorry for them!!!"

The first 12 months of their life is a huge blur, honestly. The first 12 months were about pure survival....Tim and I did what we could to get through each and every day. Then the first 12 months went by and we're finally at the 2-year mark and we're having a blast.....

Here's a picture of Cole and Bella a few days after birth...I still can't get over how tiny they were (Bella was 3lb, 6 oz and Cole was 4lb, 8 oz at birth). The 2nd picture was one of our first official "family pictures".

And here are the kiddos now...looking at them today, you'd never guess they were preemies....

This is one of my favorite pictures just for the fact that they're actually sitting nicely together on the stairs eating their snack and having a lovely conversation about their shoes (yes, I was one of those moms who swore her kid would never eat those darn gummy snacks but sometimes I have to pick my battles)...

Bella...all smiles....that is, until Cole smacked her in the back of the head...

Cole...the boy has a cheesy grin...don't you love the chipped front teeth, courtesy of just being an active little stunt devil...

In the meantime, I experienced another miscarriage when I became pregnant totally by surprise a few months after Cole and Bella were born (I guess survival mode included having sex on occasion!) but unfortunately it ended in miscarriage before we could even celebrate being pregnant.

After awhile, we began to try naturally, thinking if it happened once then maybe it might happen again. But it didn't and by December 2005, we had planned to do another IVF cycle with the leftover frozen embryos we had from our IVF cycle when we conceived Cole and Bella.

In February 2006, we transferred two beautiful embryos and we were blessed to be pregnant. Tim and I were SO relieved when we had our first ultrasound and learned there was only one baby!!

But sadly, at 10 weeks, we lost that pregnancy and finally had to come to terms with having no more children.

In our reproductive career (as I like to refer to it), we had spent over $100,000 to have a family and we had simply run out of the financial means to continue....and we were just so overjoyed to have Cole and Bella that I think Tim and I felt very peaceful about this decision. That's not to say there wasn't any grieving involved here, on my part anyway, but I was happy to at least have two children and I figured this was part of God's big plan for me and I was satisfied with that.

So we went about our life....talking about all the fun vacations we'd take as the kids got older....traveling to Germany to see Tim's extended family, Walt Disney World trips, traveling to Boston to see my extended family....we were full of dreams of what the future held for us as a family of four.

Then one month my period was late and I had that nagging feeling of "hmmm, could I we even had sex in the last month....I can't remember the last time we had sex....there's no way" I humored myself the following morning and dug out a home-pregnancy test that I still happened to have leftover from my frozen cycle.

Within a few seconds, a 2nd line appeared right away, nice and dark, and I stood there with my jaw wide open. I ran over to Tim, who was sound asleep still, and yelled right into his face "Oh my God, I'm pregnant....I'm pregnant....I'm pregnant".  He woke up for a second and said "that's great, Mom" and went back to sleep.

I didn't care....I was too overjoyed in my own little world to be mad at the fact that he didn't wake up to celebrate with me.  I just laid next to him thinking "I can't believe I'm pregnant....who can I call at 6:00 in the morning??"

This happened on a Saturday so on Monday I called my OB's office and asked for a beta blood test and she was happy to oblige. When she got the results, a huge whopping 13,900, she had her nurse call me and say "you need to come in for an ultrasound", which concerned me because I couldn't be that far along and I was starting to wonder if she was suspecting a molar pregnancy.

But I remained hopeful and went in the next day for my ultrasound and when my OB couldn't see much on her ultrasound machine so she sent me to radiology.

The u/s tech wouldn't say much to me except when she asked me if I already have children and I said "yes, a set of twins" she said "oh, do you want more twins?"....and I asked her "why, do you see two babies?" and she said "I can't tell you'll have to talk to your doctor".

I stared up at the ceiling for the remainder of that u/s (a very long 30 minutes) wondering what on earth she could possibly mean by the question she asked me....surely, it was someone's idea of a joke that I could be pregnant naturally and without any medical intervention with TWINS!

After she was done, I went upstairs to my OB's office and she greeted me in the hall with a smile and asked me to come back to her office. She asked "did the tech say anything to you about the ultrasound" and I answered "no".

She then told me to sit down and said "you've having another set of twins" head started spinning and all I heard at that point from her was "blah, blah, blah...another beta....blah, blah, blad....another ultrasound next week....blah, blah, blah".....and then I left her office and called Bonnie.....

Now I'm 25 weeks pregnant with twin boys and still in complete disbelief that this is really happening, even as I lay in bed in the early mornings and I feel them kicking inside me.

It just seems unreal to me, this little miracle that has occurred. In the beginning, I never intended the pregnancy to last.  I figured based on my history of miscarriages, even with medical intervention, that I might as well enjoy the pregnancy as long as it lasted but not to get too attached.

I must admit there's still a small part of me that feels that way...too afraid to get attached because I'm not exactly out of the woods just yet. In fact, until we're holding these two baby boys in our arms, I won't feel content and at peace.

I'm going on my 34th day of bedrest.....yes, bedrest since 20 weeks due to "irritable uterus"....can't say I blame my uterus for feeling a bit irritated. Not to mention that my OB considers my pregnancy to be high-risk for a whole host of other issues so needless to say I'll spend the remainder of this pregnancy off my feet as much as possible.

Here's my most recent belly picture (not exactly the most flattering picture but for the sake of being overly sentimental, I've been taking belly pics every 2 weeks) 24 weeks, I was measuring 34 weeks...I look like I'm ready to give birth any day now!

So that sums it all up.....when I think of having another set of twins, I know I am living proof that God has a sense of humor.

I do believe that God doesn't give you more than you can handle but, surely in my case, I think God just likes to amuse Himself. This pregnancy can be nothing else other than a pure miracle that God has blessed us with (oh, and the 2 glasses of wine Tim encouraged me to drink at dinner the night I'm sure these little guys were conceived).


Alexis said...

Beautiful blog Helene!! Thanks for sharing it!! Rub that belly for me, and kiss Cole and Bella for me!! Love ya!!

Jen said...

I am still in shock that you guys are having more twins. I can't wait to see them, and I will keep you in my prayers! Keep good thoughts.

ines said...

Beautiful story Helene. I am very happy for you and this ending!
hugs to you!

Melanie said...

Oh, Helene, your story had me in tears, even though I know the ending! Welcome to blogworld. Hang in there with the bedrest, it'll be worth it in the end, but I know it's hard right now. I'm so glad you're blogging so we can share this journey with you. Hugs!

Michele S said...

Helene- I had no idea you're on bedrest girlie. You guys have beem through so much together and you will get thru this too. I LOVE that you started a blog. You won't be able to keep me away!

Jenni said...

Helene~that was so fun to read! You're a trip! What an amazing journey.
I totally feel for you as far as the bedrest goes! I was hospitalized with an "irritable uterus" during Sophia's pregnancy for three months and I swear, I was ready for the nut house in the end!! I am so excited for you and can't wait to see those boys!!

Blake said...

I tried to post a comment yesterday and I couldn't. I'm posting as Blake being that's what my blog is under. How fun that you started a blog...I'll be a regular, that's for sure.

I love all of the pictures & still am in shock that you're having another set of twins!

PS...Did you know that we "might" be heading to California in March to visit friends that live near you??? Not sure yet but it's a possibility. If so, we have to come by for a day to visit!

Love ya lots,

Debbie said...

Helene, Thanks for the update. I've been afraid to call. I didn't know you were put on bedrest, but I totally know why. As far as being Type A-- just breathe, just breathe. I miss you, maybe I can come down with Bonnie sometime.

Love and Kisses to all,
Debbie M. said...

Can you believe that I read your entire blog all the way back to here...?????

Hmmm, are you believing me right now?

Will u even get this comment.

Might never know!

Semi-Slacker Mom said...

Isn't life full of wonderful surprises!

Jennifer said...

I'm just reading this now.


LOL! Now I get it, your blog title! I am literally ROTFLMBO!!! Woman, you deserve an award! ;-)

Carla Pin said...

Helene, kudos for you! What a blessing, I have gone thru some fertility issues and know how you felt.
I only have a set of twins and cannot immagine how you do with 2...

You are awesome!

FabulousTerrah said...

Loving your blog!

Holly said...

I really enjoyed reading your story. So sorry you had so much heartbreak...but to have happiness in the end! Yours is not the first story I have heard like this...I know two other couples who have ended up pregnant the old-fashioned way after spending much money and time on IVF. Your kiddos are beautiful!

jennbecc said...

I'm pretty sure I've been to your blog before....??....and I'm pretty sure you've commented on my blog before....??....but somehow I was drawn here tonight and have been laughing it up by reading your posts! Thanks!!! I really needed it! :) Where in N CA are you? I'm about 50 miles N of SF.

Sela Toki said...

LMBO (hyena-laugh). And your remarks about your "X" Ha ha. I have wished for twins but was never lucky enough. Now and then I have time to read through older blogs. Yours is just so entertaining.

Wiley said...

I'm currently pregnant with a second set of twins and wanted to thank you for writing your story! Both sets of ours were spontaneous with this current set actually conceived with a Mirena IUD in place.

One of our first set was stillborn resulting in them being born early, but we are thinking positive for this pair.

I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr

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